State's schools drop in progress benchmark

From - The grades are in for New Mexico schools and only 13percent met Adequate Yearly Progress, or AYP. That's down from 23 percent last year. But, some are concerned this year's numbers don't tell the whole story. The reason is, the data from this year, isn't measured the same way as the data has been measured in the past. That means scores released Friday may not be as bad as they seem. No Child Left Behind Law requires that all states meet a 100 percent proficiency by 2014. Education Secretary Hanna Skandera says it comes down to the fact that New Mexico students need to perform better. As far as ranking New Mexico with other states, Skandera said, "Every state has different standards and assessments, so technically speaking, the comparison is apples to oranges today." She believes the letter grading system the state plans to implement in the fall will help with that. Next year the state plans to send a waiver to the U.S. Department of Education to replace AYP with that system. Read more

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More Signs of Rebound of NM Economy

Susana Martinez
Bloomberg  Business Week - The finances of New Mexico's unemployment compensation program are improving and the fund should remain in the black through early 2013, a year longer than previously projected, according to Gov. Susana Martinez's administration. However, it remains uncertain how much in taxes businesses must pay next year to keep the program afloat. As it stands now because of a veto by the governor, there's nothing in state law that sets unemployment tax rates for businesses starting in January. "I think we are seriously in limbo," said Rep. Mimi Stewart, an Albuquerque Democrat. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Oil and Gas Still Paying the Bills in NM

Albany Times Union — New Mexico is seeing record amounts of revenue from drilling leases. The increase comes as improved drilling techniques and the consent of potash miners persuaded the State Land Office this year to open previously off-limits tracts of land in New Mexico's southeastern counties to oil companies. The State Land Office in June recorded unprecedented bid levels at its monthly oil and natural gas lease sale in by auctioning off leases on nearly 8,400 acres, mostly in Eddy and Lea Counties, for $17.2 million. That record lasted only one month.
Last week, the state accepted bids from oil companies totaling $19.5 million for an additional 9,600 acres of drilling rights. All newly available oil leases will are expected to be gobbled up by August. Much of the state's money from the leases is earmarked for a state fund that pays out a prescribed amount of money every year to public schools, universities and other beneficiaries. "It's been a nice shot in the arm for education right when we need it," Public Lands Commissioner Ray Powell told The Albuquerque Journal. Although the boom isn't expected to last, it's the latest sign of an uptick in New Mexico oil production despite ongoing debate over the state's environmental regulations. Oil production in New Mexico during the just-ended fiscal year had increased by more than 4 percent. Every $1 increase in crude oil prices generates $4 million in revenue for state coffers over the course of a year. Read full story here: News New Mexico


The Week in Review

Jim Spence
We began the week with a story about contradictory votes cast by members of Congress in 2006. Apparently debt ceilings and risks of defaults were different back then. Five years ago every single Democrat in the Senate voted AGAINST a default-avoiding debt ceiling increase. What was different? Well, George W. Bush was president and it was “his” budget that wasn’t balanced. And just five years ago a relatively obscure Senator named Barack Obama, was amongst the most indignant over the lack of “leadership.”
Senator Obama must have never thought he would be president or he never would have gone on the record as being completely opposed to default-avoiding debt ceiling increases. Ironically, the increases he opposed back then are absolutely dwarfed by the ones he wants to be approved today. It's a floating "leadership" standard.
We enjoyed a return visit from Rep. Dennis Kintigh (Chaves, Otero, Lincoln) on the show Monday. He related the curious behavior of the elected officials who grilled Secretary of State Dianna Duran in a public meeting in Albuquerque the previous Friday.
Dennis Kintigh
While Secretary Duran was also widely applauded at the same meeting, apparently the squaring of voter registration data with those actually voting troubled some. It is clear that those most vociferous in denying that there is any voter fraud in New Mexico, are also the most vehemently opposed to any investigative activity that might actually provide proof of their assertions. It seems we should just take their word for it.
We ran across a story that a black bear was milling around the exterior of the governor’s residence in Santa Fe looking for food recently. Governor Martinez took the opportunity created by the story to warn citizens that wildlife displaced by massive forest fires will seek food in developed areas. It would seem that decades of allowing radical environmentalists (instead of professionals with forest management education and experience) to control fuel loads through grazing, logging, and thinning, has led to the destroying of wildlife “habitats.” How ironic.
On Tuesday KOB-TV reported that the Martinez administration will be checking the residency of people receiving New Mexico driver’s licenses. This comes on the heels of reports we have provided on News New Mexico that cab drivers are doing a “brisk” business between the airport in Albuquerque and the Department of Motor Vehicles. Reports we are receiving suggest taxi drivers are taking out-of-state visitors that have just arrived in Albuquerque straight to the DMV. There they wait until their fares go inside and buy a driver’s license. Then they take their fare back to the airport for immediate departure.
It would seem that slowly but surely, various agencies in the Obama administration are giving unelected non-business entities the authority to make critical management decisions affecting life as we know it. The president’s National Labor Relations Board is bullying Boeing so that the company will scrap plans for a plant that would create thousands of high paying (non-union) jobs in South Carolina. On another front, the EPA is forcing the closing of three coal-fired generators in San Juan County that will kill jobs and make rolling electricty blackouts more likely.
In Albuquerque radical environmentalists are suing Public Service Company of New Mexico over its plans to use low cost natural gas to generate electricity instead of wind and solar despite the fact that wind and solar costs six times as much to produce. PNM is arguing for the authority to provide low cost power to New Mexico residents, while the poorly named, “Coalition for Clean Affordable Energy” claims that it, and not the experts at PNM, has the right to dictate to PNM and to NM residents. Is there anyone who doesn’t realize this is insane?
Congressman Steve Pearce is the only elected official serving New Mexico in Washington D.C. to vote for compromises that will keep the nation from defaulting on its debt obligations. He voted for the Ryan budget plan back in the spring, and he voted for another bill earlier this week that would also keep government functioning.
Despite all the posturing and bluster from Senators Udall and Bingaman they have voted against every measure that would keep the U.S. government open. And while Reps Ben Ray Lujan and Martin Heinrich never had a chance to vote on President Obama’s budget because it lost in the Senate 97-0, both did reject two other separate proposals in the House that would keep the government open and functioning.
Pat Murdoch
With black eyes and a bloody nose already, New Mexico’s judiciary took a serious body blow Wednesday when news broke that Judge Albert “Pat” Murdoch was arrested on rape charges. The problems for Judge Murdoch throw into question what will happen with the corruption trial of former NM Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron. Murdoch presides over the long delayed case that has seen A.G. Gary King come up with one excuse after another as to why he would not expedite the justice process. Vigil-Giron took the opportunity to blast her critics in the wake of the latest judicial scandal late last week.
Rebecca Vigil-Giron
It seems that a health care workers union at St. Vincent Hospital is planning to go on strike soon. We find it somewhat amusing that most union advocates tend to insist that health care is a “right” rather than a service that must be provided by suppliers and paid for by consumers. It would seem that something has to give. Can health care worker's unions retain the “right” to strike if the public has a “right” to make them work regardless of contract negotiations? It would seem that unions are going to have to decide which of the many "rights" they demand, that they value most.
And finally, unwinding the damage done to New Mexico by the Richardson administration’s Environmental Improvement Board looks like it will take alot more time. Late this week PNM began efforts to try to dismantle the state’s unilateral decision to put restrictions on CO-2. While the costs to New Mexico residents associated with the EIB’s “cap and trade” program are real, the benefits are non-existent. We recall that the un-elected EIB was amazingly brazen when it made the onerous rules on the very day Susana Martinez was elected governor. In doing so it was one more regulatory tumor that the Richardson administration left behind to metastasize on New Mexico’s economy. Thanks Bill!