I have read recent op-eds titled “What is Important?” and “Senate Played Games with Child Safety Legislation” in the March 26 and April 22, 2015 editions of the Valencia County News Bulletin written by local legislators. In it, the writers focused on legislation that passed the House of Representatives and blamed the Senate for placing “politics in front of people” and “playing political games and gridlock.”
In answer to the question “What is Important?” it’s simple: tell the truth. Making bold statements and accusations is easy but hard to defend if they are not based on facts. Contrary to what was written in the two op-eds, making New Mexico a “Right-to-Work” state will not create one single job, but it will lower the standard of living for too many hard-working families. With respect to flunking third-graders, study after study has shown that flunking students because of arbitrary test scores does not provide long-term academic success.
Telling the whole truth is especially important when explaining what happened with the capital outlay bill. The Senate passed the bill with unanimous bipartisan support (40-0) and sent it to the House of Representatives. House Republicans made significant changes by removing over $75 million of projects for senior centers and higher education institutions throughout the state, and replacing them with projects to repair roads mostly in southeastern New Mexico and a Spaceport hangar, to name a few. Then the House sent it back to the Senate with 15 minutes left in the legislative session and expected the Senate to go along with these changes without an opportunity to fully review them. It would have been fiscally irresponsible for the Senate to vote to spend over $200 million of taxpayers’ money without having enough time to know what was in the bill.
Both writers refer to legislation that passed the House with strong bipartisan support but failed in the Senate as examples of “Senate gridlock.” Again, telling the whole truth reveals a more complete story. The writers failed to mention that nearly 50 bills unanimously passed the Senate and at least 15 bills passed the Senate with strong bipartisan support (each with five or fewer dissenting votes in the Senate) only to die in the House.
One of the bills that died in the House was regarding a compromise bill for driver’s licenses for immigrants sponsored by Senate Minority Leader Stuart Ingle and Senator John Arthur Smith that would have made New Mexico Real ID compliant. It passed the Senate in a strong bipartisan vote of 35-5, but House Republicans were not interested in resolving this issue and never heard it in committee. Bills that would have helped foster children, student athletes, homeless people, senior citizens, as well as active military members and veterans all died in the House. The writers also failed to mention that the Governor refused to sign over 30 bills that passed both the House and Senate either unanimously or with strong bipartisan support. Do they really want to talk about gridlock?
It is easy to make bold statements and accusations, but they lose their credibility when challenged by the truth. The writers’ op-eds reveal the importance of transparency: the facts don’t lie; they just have to be exposed.