AFSCME Council 18

AFSCME statement re: NM Voices for Children Report:“NM Short 100,000 Jobs to Rebound from Recession”

New Mexico’s public employment numbers and services have suffered alongside other sectors of our economy. Combining other factors, including ten years of regressive tax policy, below national average school testing results, some of the lowest graduation rates in the nation, diminished federal funding, and a drastically cut state budget, NM’s table is hardly set for an economic recovery.

The spending power of the public sector, and private sector workers tied to public works projects, has a vast and pivotal impact on the overall New Mexico economy. It isn’t about ‘big government spending’. New Mexico’s contributions to our nation’s security and military readiness through the bases and national laboratories make us one of the higher recipients of federal tax dollars. But those tax dollars are spent by NM families at local businesses just the same and should be seen for what they are, a key component of our state’s overall economy.

A hiring freeze, Governor Richardson’s response to the Great Recession and only recently lifted under the Martinez administration, had chaotic effects on public services across the state. Today, as the NM State Personnel races to try and rehire vital staffing positions, NM finds itself victim to other New Mexico shortcomings detailed in the NM Voices report: fewer educated, qualified individuals prepared to take on today’s jobs and an outdated pay-scale that fails to retain the best and brightest for NM state government.

Public employees and services have suffered throughout the recession. Without a commitment to build our capacity to deliver public services New Mexicans expect and pay for through taxes, a neglected public sector will have an stifling effect on any economic recovery.

Construction and manufacturing industries will only build and develop in NM if the infrastructure and capable workforce is there to support the growth. Tourists aren’t impressed when budget cuts leave streets unsafe or parks unmaintained.

Albuquerque ranks dead last for growth in employment when ranked against 100 other large U.S. metro areas according to a UNLV, Brookings Mountain Monitor study, ‘Tracking Economic Recession and Recovery in the Intermountain West’s Metropolitan Areas,' “National and regional economic recoveries have left Albuquerque completely behind.”

The Duke City places 91st out of 100 when other economic indicators of unemployment, output (GDP), and house prices are added. This is a drop of 5 positions since a previous 3rd quarter 2012 study. Albuquerque has lost more jobs proportionally than any other city in the country.

A decade of corporate tax breaks have proven to be an abject failure with respect to job creation. When looking to relocate or start a business, corporate executives don't care about an extra 1%--they care about transportation, an educated workforce, a safe place to live, and other quality of life factors like terrific education for their kids and good infrastructure.

READ the Report from NM Voices for Children

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