NM legislature must fix the lottery scholarship shortfall

From Capitol Report New Mexico - The numbers haven’t been adding up for the state lottery in recent years and that means unless the state legislature can come up with a fix, students who qualify for lottery scholarships to New Mexico universities and colleges will see across-the-board reductions.
“We’ll have to cut the size of awards for each student,” Dr. José Z. Garcia, Secretary of the Higher Education Department told members of the Legislative Finance Committee Wednesday morning (Dec. 5). “That’s what’s in statute for us to do.”
The scholarship program is facing a $5 million shortfall as the state lottery is taking in less money in recent years due to the stagnant economy while tuition rates at New Mexico institutions are rising. Since its inception in 1996, more than 82,600 students from across the state have been awarded lottery scholarships.
The scholarship program will continue but unless Roundhouse legislators come up with a solution, Dr. Garcia said the amount given to students will be reduced by an estimated 35 percent. “That would be a serious hit,” Garcia said.
Officials at Higher Ed are talking to legislators and exploring options as the legislature gets ready for its 60-day session starting on Jan. 15. Among some of the suggestions?
Raising the grade point average to keep the scholarships from 2.5 to 3.0 and/or increasing the minimum number of credit hours for students from 12 to 15 per semester.
But Garcia told Capitol Report New Mexico that initial analysis shows ”there’s not enough dollars” in raising GPA or credit hours to get the scholarship fund where it needs to be.
Another option is to give the scholarships to lower and middle-income students only. “We’ve noticed that a high percentage of lottery scholarship recipients come from relatively high-income earners,” Garcia said of families with incomes of $80,000-$100,000 a year.
Whatever options are chosen, it’s up to the members of the Roundhouse to fix it or else the automatic cuts go into effect. “We can’t pay for what we have,” committee chairman and state Sen. John Arthur Smith (D-Deming) said. “We’ve got to corral this runaway horse.” Read more

Former Gov. Richardson to get highest Peruvian award

From KOB-TV.com - Former New Mexico Govnernor Bill Richardson is set to receive the highest civilian honor given by the Peruvian government. Richardson will receive the award Thursday at a private home in Santa Fe.
U.S. Ambassador to Peru Harold Forsyth will travel to New Mexico to honor Richardson with the award, called the “Order of Merit for Distinguished Services.” The Order of Merit for Distinguished Services is in rank of Grand Cross. This order was established on July 18, 1950 to honor Peruvians and foreign nationals as recognition for their distinguished contributions to the prestige of Peru and to honor the valuable services rendered to the country in the fields of politics, arts, sciences, industry and commerce. Read more


Walter E. Williams: Future Generations

Commentary by Dr. Walter E. Williams - Is there any reason for today's Americans to care about what happens to tomorrow's Americans? After all, what have tomorrow's Americans done for today's Americans? Moreover, since tomorrow's Americans don't vote, we can dump on them with impunity. That's a vision that describes the actual behavior of today's Americans. It would be seen as selfish, callous and ruthless only if it were actually articulated. Let's look at it.
Businesses, as well as most nonprofit enterprises, by law are required to produce financial statements that include all of their present and expected future liabilities. On top of that, they are required to hold reserves against future liabilities such as employee retirement.
By contrast, the federal government gets by without having to provide transparent and honest financial statements. The U.S. Treasury's "balance sheet" does list liabilities such as public debt, but it does not include the massive unfunded liabilities of Social Security, Medicare and other federal future obligations. A conservative estimate of Washington's unfunded liabilities for the year ending in 2011 is $87 trillion. That's more than 500 percent of our 2011 GDP of $15 trillion.
Washington would have to collect $8 trillion in tax revenue, not to pay off our national debt and have reserves against unfunded liabilities, but just to avoid accumulating more debt. Recent IRS data show that individuals earning $66,000 and more a year have a total adjusted gross income of $5.1 trillion. In 2011, corporate profit came to $1.6 trillion. That means if Congress simply confiscated the entire earnings of taxpayers earning more than $66,000 and all corporate profits, it wouldn't be enough to cover the $8 trillion per year growth of U.S. liabilities.
Given this impossible picture, the message coming out of Washington, especially from our leftist politicians and the news media, is that we solve our budget problems by raising taxes on the rich. If Americans were more informed, such a message would be insulting to our intelligence. There are not enough rich people to satisfy Congress' appetite.
The fact of the matter is there are not enough rich people to come anywhere close to satisfying Congress' voracious spending appetite. The true tragedy for our future is that there are millions of uninformed Americans who will buy the political demagoguery and treachery that our problems can be solved by taxing the rich. Read column

Swickard: The battle of purpose in our nation

Commentary © 2012 Michael Swickard, Ph.D. Preamble: We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
In eighth grade I was made to memorize the above Preamble to the Constitution. Whatever incentives induced me to do so are lost in the dust of fifty years while the words still resides within me. The Preamble was a purpose statement defining why this government was formed.
Over the years I have spent plenty of time considering the Pledge and the Preamble. With the privilege of time I have worked on the purpose of my government and my country. They are not one in the same, I hope.
There is an old saying, “I don’t know who discovered water but it wasn’t a fish.” We Americans have lived so long and free that we do not think about the loss of our freedom, especially if it happens slowly. We are not confronted with the same catastrophic loss of liberty as motivated our founding leaders.
The Preamble prepared us to understand the rules for the government made in 1787. Over the years the rules have been changed legally and judicially to where our founding leaders would not recognize the purpose of our government. Constitutionally it was limited and deferred to the states. Now, the federal government is omnipotent and the states are limited.
For most citizens the purpose of our country is too abstract. Many citizens are just trying to get to work each day and not go nuts having to deal with their children. Their short-term goal often is to make it to payday. What is the purpose of the country? We have 310 million answers. But several answers are repeated most often. The answers vary from the Libertarian, “Each person for themselves,” to the Communist, “All people to serve the State.” Each election is a movement to less government or more government.
In my lifetime much of the emphasis of our country has focused upon socialist redistributive ideals including the graduated tax structure, socialize medicine and state run education. Do we qualify as a socialist state? Much of the socialist agenda is now mainstream in our country and is not even in contention. Individuals and limited government have lost election after election when what is auctioned is taking the property from one citizen and giving it to another for their vote.
In today’s world our country functions in ways individual citizens will resist if the government actions supporting socialism become too profound. Taking from one citizen to give to another is now the purpose of our country. As more and more unproductive citizens get the bounty from fewer and fewer productive citizens there obviously will be a time when that will no longer power a nation. Our country will then have to retreat from socialism. How soon will it happen? I do not know. It is not if our nation will have to cast off socialism as not sustainable, it is only when. Read full column

Newsbreak New Mexico 5pm Webcast 12/5/12

Newsbreak New Mexico 5pm Newscast with Vanessa Dabovich

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Luna County Sheriff reserve officer shot
Students to clean uranium on Navajo Nation
LANL security costs
ABQ homeless veteran project 

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Gov. mansion hosting open house

New Mexicans can visit the governor’s mansion for a Christmas open house next week.
 The Governor’s Mansion Foundation is hosting the annual event on Tuesday and will hold another open house on Dec. 11. Each runs from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. 
The foundation is a nonprofit group responsible for the public areas of the governor’s residence, which is a single-story territorial style house north of Santa Fe
Gov. Susana Martinez and her husband live in private quarters at the residence, and the larger public areas are used for receptions and are open to public tours twice each month. State museum artwork is on display in the residence’s public areas.


Newsbreak New Mexico 12pm Webcast 12/5/12

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LANL security costs
Uncounted ballots may bring voting change
Pegasus eyes Luna County
Santa Fe courthouse needs furniture 

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20 students to clean up uranium on Navajo Nation

About 20 students are poised to graduate from a program that trains people to clean up Navajo Nation land poisoned by the mining and milling of uranium ore. 

The Farmington Daily Times reports that more than 100 applicants tried to get into the class, but only about 20 were picked for the three-week training. 
Radioactive material began contaminating the Navajo Nation's land and water during the 1940s when uranium was in high demand by the federal government. 
Federal and tribal regulators have teamed up since 2007 to clean up sites scattered across 27,000 square miles of Navajo Nation land.


Pegasus eyes site in Luna County

The group that pulled out of plans to build a scientific ghost town in Hobbs is still eyeing alternative sites in New Mexico.
Luna County has scheduled a special meeting on Thursday to vote on an economic development agreement with Pegasus Global Holdings, which is looking to build an uninhabited replica of an average, mid-size American city where researchers can test things like intelligent traffic systems and next-generation wireless networks. 
The group earlier this year had selected Hobbs for what it says could be a $1 billion project, but then walked away citing problems with the land deal.
 A spokeswoman for the group says several sites are still under consideration in New Mexico


Santa Fe courthouse needs furniture to open

A government board led by Gov. Susana Martinez is to consider providing money to help furnish a new Santa Fe courthouse, which likely will sit vacant before judges and court workers can move in next year. 

The 1st Judicial District plans to ask the State Board of Finance on Wednesday for $250,000 to buy some furniture for the $60 million district courthouse, which is to be completed this month. 

Martinez vetoed nearly $1.4 million the Legislature approved for courthouse furnishings earlier this year, and the board has so far declined to provide emergency money for furniture. 

Administrative Office of the Courts Director Arthur Pepin says the courthouse can't be occupied without $650,000 for furniture and $200,000 for computer-related equipment. Money for courthouse furnishings will be requested from the Legislature.


Mexican wolf lawsuit dismissed

A federal judge has dismissed claims by environmentalists that New Mexico wildlife managers violated the Endangered Species Act by allowing trapping in Mexican gray wolf territory.  

U.S. Magistrate Lorenzo Garcia dismissed the suit by WildEarth Guardians. 
The group was concerned that trapping could compromise the wolf population, which spans parts of New Mexico and Arizona. It pointed to 14 individual wolves that were captured in foothold traps between March 2002 and February 2009. 
The New Mexico Game Commission voted to lift the trapping ban last year based partly on a federal study that found trapping accounted for only a fraction of documented wolf injuries and deaths in the reintroduction area. 
WildEarth Guardians hasn't decided whether to appeal the ruling.


$500 million available for NM capital improvement projects

State economists estimate nearly $500 million is available to finance capital improvement projects across New Mexico

The Legislative Finance Committee was told Monday the state can issue bonds backed by severance taxes to provide about $222 million for new capital projects, which will be determined by the Legislature and Gov. Susana Martinez next year when lawmakers meet in a 60-day legislative session. 
State law earmarks about $175 million in bond financing for public school improvements and $33 million must go for water projects. Nearly $34 million of available financing must be used for tribal infrastructure and capital improvements in colonias.


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$500 million available for NM capital projects
Mexican wolf lawsuit dismissed
Santa Fe courthouse needs furniture to open
Pegasus still looking at NM sites 

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