The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.”
Franklin D. Roosevelt

How are economic fairness issues faring during the 2015 New Mexico legislative session? How are our state’s elected officials prioritizing the needs of New Mexico’s working families and the many individuals who struggle daily to “provide enough” for themselves and their dependents?

Not surprisingly perhaps, conservative legislators have spent the 2015 session largely genuflecting to corporate interests while many progressive legislators are fighting to improve the working and living conditions of low-income and middle-class workers.

Democrats in the House and Senate have been advocating for a slew of progressive economic/jobs bills, despite the uphill battle of having lost their majority in the House (and thus the likelihood that none of these bills will ever make it to the governor’s desk).

Progressives in the House and Senate are championing bills to increase the Working Families Tax Credit, cap predatory lending interest rates at 36%, increase the statewide minimum wage, substantially increase teacher salaries, bring fairness to the tax code, and increase funds for job training (JTIP) through community colleges, among many others.

Conservatives in the House and Senate are championing bills to reduce unemployment benefits for New Mexico workers, preempt the ability of municipalities to raise the minimum wage, reduce the corporate income tax rate even further than the controversial 2013 cut, and dismantle labor unions, among many others.

Adding to the abundance of those who already have much takes no courage at all. Helping people with too little provide enough for themselves should be the guiding light of every legislator.

The contrast couldn’t be clearer.

And today, Rep. Patricia Roybal Caballero made that contrast clearer still with a bill to use a tax on billion-dollar corporations to fund early childhood education programs.

Rep. Caballero’s HB 495 – “Corporate Tax for Preschool Programs” – would have imposed a tax on certain corporations operating in New Mexico that gross global income of over $1 billion and who pay a certain percentage of their employees less than 200% of the federal poverty level. Revenues from that tax would have been used to fund preschool programs.

Bill Jordan of NM Voices for Children had this to say about the innovative approach in Rep. Caballero’s bill:

“We’ve asked the legislature for 10 years now to fund programs in early education we know will make a difference for our kids. We now have less than 10% of our kids getting home visiting programs and a 7-year waiting list for chid care assistance. The legislature hasn’t restored childcare assistance funding to where it was three years ago. We think this is a creative approach that won’t hurt New Mexico businesses.”

Rep. Caballero’s bill was defeated in committee, with a handful of Democrats joining every Republican member in dissent.

Written by