The 2015 Legislative Session now has less than a week to finish all its work, but there is still plenty of time to address the most pressing need in New Mexico today: more jobs.
Early in this 60-day meeting of the legislature, Senate Democrats laid out our priorities through an ambitious ‘Ready to Work’ Jobs Plan. The plan creates 73,000 jobs over the next five years and stimulates greater economic activity across New Mexico. The plan is comprised of more than 50 bills introduced in the current session that promise new employment and economic activity in urban and rural areas of the state, across a broad range of occupations.
Our plan also meets two significant challenges. First, it addresses the needs of workers who are ready to work now – those who have all the skills needed but simply don’t have good jobs available them. Second, our plan fills a skills gap that would encourage employers to expand their operations.
For workers who need more skills to get a good job, or who are just entering the workforce, our plan helps get them ready to work with more skills and job training through our workforce training incentives, education and higher education institutions.
Legislation in the package of bills includes increased funding for job training through community colleges; $300 million worth of roads and highway jobs paid for by a gas tax adjustment; a new 33% set-aside for New Mexico businesses in government contracts; tripling the LEDA Fund to help us compete for businesses locating from out-of-state; a substantial investment in early childhood education programs that invest in thousands of new high quality educators; investments in rural broadband to encourage telecommuting job creation, and many other proven job measures. To learn more visit our website at www.nmsenate.com
Democrats’ ‘Ready to Work’ Jobs Plan can reverse the low-growth course we’re on, if we have the will and the courage to enact it. It is a bold plan. It is an imaginative plan. That is what has been missing too often during the last four years in the state’s economic policies. Democrats top priority is creating jobs and getting the economy moving again.
Unfortunately so-called ‘Right to Work’ has been a top priority of the Governor. In states where the Governor’s priority has been passed a devastating impact has been seen on wages, employee benefits, retirement plans, and unemployment. The term ‘Right To Work’ is a marketing ploy, and it is wrong for New Mexico.
‘Ready to Work’ will get people working again and help build a growing, entrepreneurial economy in New Mexico. We are at a critical moment in our state’s history, in terms of wages, poverty, economic growth and jobs. Despite all that our state has to offer businesses and employers we are losing the battle for economic opportunity and fairness. Too many jobs that once qualified an individual as middle class today make you a member of the working poor. Thousands of our fellow residents are out of work; thousands more work harder for lower pay.
It is not too late, even with just days to go. Legislatures can perform miracles of speed and innovation from time to time. I encourage the Governor to sign this jobs package. It is positive, forward-looking, and substantive. Together we can reverse the economic course we’re on, if we have the will and the courage to act.
Senator Michael Padilla is Majority Whip of the New Mexico State Senate