New Mexico First Blog

Statewide town hall: education after high school ‘urgently needed’ to turn around state’s poverty trend

New Mexicans say higher education, workforce development reforms necessary to stem ‘brain drain,’ lift families out of poverty and improve healthcare outcomes  ..

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Higher education town hall: graduates must be career-ready

Nearly 200 citizens from all state regions say reforms urgently needed to stem ‘brain drain,’ lift families out of poverty and improve healthcare outcome!

Albuquerque, N.M. – New Mexicans attending a statewide town hall on higher education this week delivered a dozen reform proposals for a system they said is not adequately preparing students for careers in the state.

Public policy organization New Mexico First convened its regular town hall, the organization’s 42nd, which invites residents from all over the state to converge on a chosen topic, discuss solutions and agree by consensus on a slate of reforms that New Mexico First then implements through legislation and other means. Some past town halls have discussed healthcare, economic vitality and water.

This week’s town hall, entitled “Strengthening Higher Education and Tomorrow’s Workforce,” hosted nearly 200 New Mexicans on Tuesday and Wednesday in Albuquerque to discuss the state’s higher education and workforce development systems.

“Education changes lives, it changes families and it changes our future,” Heather Balas, president and executive director of New Mexico First, said. “New Mexicans know the impact of education and the urgency with which we need to make reforms, as evidenced by the hundreds of citizens in attendance who came from two-thirds of the state’s counties and representing rural, tribal and urban areas.”

Balas said higher education and workforce development are “inextricably connected” to the state’s high rate of poverty, years-long high unemployment rate and the outmigration of working-age adults, especially graduates of New Mexico colleges and universities.

“More can be done to align degrees and certificates with the abundance of job vacancies in the state,” Balas said. “A critical sector with an ongoing shortage of workers is healthcare, which limits residents’ access to health services. We had a group of participants focus specifically on how to fill the healthcare workforce pipeline with qualified workers.”

Bringing down barriers was a common theme that emerged from the half-dozen discussion groups, with each group focusing on a different topic. Collectively, groups said the state’s higher education system will benefit from greater collaboration between community colleges and universities, and making post-high school education more accessible will improve completion and career outcomes.

“Many of the state’s higher education institutions are written into our constitution, so they cannot be eliminated, and it was recently concluded by a task force that doing so would not help much,” Del Archuleta, one of two co-chairs heading up efforts to implement the town hall’s recommendations. “With only so much money to be shared by our universities and colleges, what we can do is find ways for them to collaborate so that New Mexico has a more cohesive educational system.”

Each of the six discussion groups was tasked with crafting a vision statement at the beginning of the town hall. For example, the discussion group whose topic was titled “Student Success: High school preparedness and community college” envision that “[b]y 2028 New Mexico will lead the nation in high school and post-secondary enrollment and graduation rates. K-12 and post-secondary improvements, incorporating experiential and relevant learning has resulted in an increase in college and career readiness and living wages.”

Groups were then directed to propose two goals, each with three to five strategies on how to attain the goal. Goals and accompanying strategies had to receive a vote by the full town hall of 85 percent to move forward as a consensus-based recommendation.

Randy Grissom, a former Santa Fe Community College president and Archuleta’s implementation co-chair, said that detailed action plans of the recommendations will be determined in the coming months as the implementation committee and sub-committees convene.

“Our job, after the town hall, is to work with the committee to winnow down that list to a small set for which we can advocate to the Legislature,” Grissom said. “Implementing the full body of work created by the town hall will require even more New Mexicans’ rallying for these changes, and we will work with community leaders, educators, the media and others to get it accomplished. New Mexico’s future depends on it.”

The complete report on the town hall will be released later this month on the nonprofit’s website, nmfirst.org. Goals outlined by the town hall fall into three categories: student success in high school preparation, community colleges and universities; higher education institution governance and funding; and workforce alignment and integration, particularly in the energy and healthcare industries. Specific examples are:

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Registration Opens for The Upcoming Town Hall on Strengthening Higher Education and Tomorrow’s Workforce!

Calling on all Community members, business leaders, family and labor advocates, educators, tribal representatives, government professionals, elected officials and students to register for the upcoming town hall, Strengthening Higher Education and Tomorrow’s Workforce.  ..

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2018 Legislative Session

The legislative session is underway, and New Mexico First is actively following economy, water, agriculture and education policy. We are supporting legislation that aligns with town hall recommendations from the Statewide Town Hall on Water (2014) , the Statewide Town Hall on Economic Vitality (2016)and the Resilience in New Mexico Agriculture Strategic Plan (Ag Plan).  ..

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New Mexico MainStreet Will Begin Accepting Applications for FY18 MainStreet Programs

Applications will be accepted for the MainStreet Accelerator Program, the Frontier Communities Initiative, and the New Mexico Arts & Cultural Districts Program. ..

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Call on Communities to Submit Economic Development Project Proposals for Funding Opportunities

The New Mexico Economic Development Department will host the next FUNDIT meeting August 22nd to help local leaders identify funding for economic development projects. New Mexico FUNDIT, is a streamlined approach to help communities identify funding opportunities in one centralized location by bringing local, state and federal funding agencies together to analyze and compare proposals for capital projects. The state is calling on communities to submit project proposals by August 11th for review during its upcoming meeting.

New Mexico FUNDIT is an informal group of funding agencies that meets regularly to review potential projects. Over 13 Federal and State entities are represented in the group. Their goal is to improve the effectiveness of project review and support, while ensuring communities have the information they need to obtain full funding for projects.  ..

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2017 Legislative Session Policy Victories

Now that the 2017 Legislative Session has concluded, and as of Friday the Governor has completed her signing deadline, New Mexico First is pleased to announce that your voice for smart, bipartisan policy played an influential role in this year’s session. Our public policy organization promotes recommendations developed by citizens during our town halls and forums. This year, New Mexico First supported or informed legislative efforts on economy, ethics reform, water and education.  ..

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Legislation advances on cliff effects, broadband and agriculture

The New Mexico First team has been busy in Santa Fe, with major advancement on three pieces of legislation and steady progress on several others. ..

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New Mexico First Advancing Economic Reforms

From expanding statewide broadband to broadening opportunities for workforce training, to researching ways to reduce “cliff effects” for low-income families, New Mexico First continues to advance a robust platform of reforms. These priorities and more are based on citizen recommendations developed during the 2016 economy town hall. The event, held last May, was attended by over 200 people from throughout New Mexico, representing urban, rural, and tribal interests.

A set of consensus recommendations resulted and addressed: small business climate and entrepreneurship, rural and tribal development, diversifying our economy, government and the New Mexico economy, economic security for families and a changing workforce.

Potential Reforms

New Mexico First endorses the following legislation because the proposed changes align with a one or more of the town hall recommendations.

Economic Security for Families

  • Authored by New Mexico First, SJM18: Family Support Services Information advances the town hall recommendation to address “cliff effects” that can trap families in poverty. This memorial, if passed, will enable the collection of economic data on family support programs – focusing mainly on the Child Care Assistance Program.
  • If passed, HB 86: Caregiver Leave Act, advances the town hall recommendation to address economic challenges facing family caregivers by allowing New Mexico employees to use accrued sick leave to care for family members.

Broadband

Three bills advance the town hall’s call for expanded broadband:

Changing Workforce

  • If passed, HB147: Workforce Training Residency Requirement advances the town hall’s recommendation to expand a qualified workforce to meet employer needs by making it easier for new residents to take part in the Industrial Job Training Program.

Taxes and Regulations

  • If passed, HB58: Rulemaking Requirements helps advance the town hall’s call for a results-driven, effective government by providing a detailed, uniform process for state agencies to process and adopt rules and regulations.
  • New Mexico First expects to introduce additional legislation regarding tax research in the coming days.

You can access the complete list of legislative priorities on our website, where you can also track all the bills we are supporting.

 

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Reactions to Town Hall Report Enthusiastic and Optimistic

Report calls for small business reform, economic expansion and smart financial foundations for families  ..

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