February 8, 2016

[Quick Action: Say Thanks!] That one time a State Senator sent 100,000 NM students to college

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We know.  Nowadays it seems like legislators in Santa Fe spend more time not doing than doing.

Most everyone who follows New Mexico politics points to the introduction of slash and burn politics by the new wing of the Republican Party, led by Governor Martinez and, more recently, new Republican Majority Leader Nate Gentry.

Gentry has made this legislative session not about creating jobs, fighting poverty or helping everyday working people get ahead. Instead, he and his Republican Party have put out daily press releases, social media posts and statements attacking Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, the Senate’s most powerful Democrat.

And Governor Martinez shares their concern.  She helped raise and spend an estimated $1,000,000 in an effort to unseat him in 2012.  They’re already gearing up for a repeat in 2016.

With Sanchez out of the way, Republicans like Gentry believe they’ll be able to run their corporations-first agenda through the Senate and to the Governor’s desk unimpeded. 

So, who is Michael Sanchez? For one, he’s the guy who sponsored the bill to create the Legislative Lottery Scholarship program in 1996.  Legislative aides say he’s been the program’s champion ever since, fighting off attempts to raid the fund or diminish the number of students it can help.

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Sen. Michael Sanchez (D-Belen)

And since he first proposed that idea twenty years ago, more than 103,500 New Mexicans have received help attending college.  

That’s a lot of people who owe Senator Michael Sanchez a thank you.

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Now, Sanchez’s Legislative Lottery Scholarship program is in danger.  Economic woes have led to lower lottery sales and more people seeking degrees to get ahead.

Last year, Sanchez sponsored a bill to put $1.1 million in unclaimed prizes back into the scholarship program, but Gentry and House Republicans failed to bring it to a full vote.

This year, Sanchez is sponsoring a similar bill that is likely to pass the Senate but end up in a similar predicament in Gentry’s House.

Did you go to school on a Legislative Lottery Scholarship? Know someone who did?  Share this post online and tell your story.

Then send Sen. Sanchez a quick Thank You note here.  We’ll print it out and deliver it to him in his Roundhouse office.