Outgoing New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez was interviewed by TV Channels 4, 7, and 13 regarding her 8 years in office that ends December 31, 2018.
You can view all three of the interviews at the below links:
Such interviews are called “exit interviews”.
Exit interviews with the media give the elected official one last opportunity to put a positive spin on their years of service in office. Exit interviews provide no in-depth analysis of what the departing elected official accomplished. During her interviews, Governor Martinez talked about what she’s most proud of, her regrets and what she plans to do next.
When asked about what she thinks her legacy is, she said it was improving the education system in New Mexico saying:
“I think history is going to define what my legacy will be — whether I fought the right fights, pushed the right policies, put children first and never gave up. I really do think history is going to define that in the long term. … The things that were being done 40 or 50 years before I came on had us at 63 percent graduation rate. We’re right now at the highest graduation rate ever in this state. More kids are reading at grade level than ever before … I never lost focus on keeping our children first, and I never forgot the promises I made to the people of New Mexico … .”
On education, Governor Martinez stood by her appointment of controversial former Public Education Department Secretary Hanna Skandera saying:
“We were pushing policies that were different, because for decades they were the same [thing] … Hanna believed in the policies and was not going to give up, because she wasn’t going to give up on our kids and because they turned it into politics, it became about one person.”
Another topic was crime expressing regret she wasn’t able to reinstate the death penalty for certain offenses, pointing to the horrific baby Brianna case she prosecuted as District Attorney saying:
“I saw that baby, that was the most horrific scene ever and that person didn’t get the maximum penalty, and that person doesn’t deserve to walk amongst us. …” .
In two interviews, Governor Martinez discussed her infamous Governor Staff Christmas pizza party in 2015 at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico saying:
“We’re all humans and we all make mistakes and I think the best thing to do is when you make a mistake is to accept it, to acknowledge it. Then, to make sure that you learn from it and I think that’s exactly what I did … .”
Martinez said that the one thing she is most proud of was keeping her promise not to raise taxes.
Governor Martinez plans to move back to southern New Mexico to help her brother’s family and that “not working was not an option”.
Governor Martinez’s brother recently died of Lou Gehrig’s disease, or ALS.
In the Channel 4 exit interview, Governor Susana Martinez became emotional when talking about having to take care of her developmentally disable sister who lived with her in the Governor’s mansion as well as helping her brother who was suffering and died recently from ALS when and she said:
“In New Mexico, we take care of our families … so we make sure whether it be personally or financially or with some assistance from others, we juggle our professional [life] and we juggle family life … [to take care of family members in need].
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
It is ironic that Governor Martinez actually said “In New Mexico, we take care of our families … with some assistance from others”.
Martinez was an absolute failure as Governor in taking care of some of the most vulnerable people of New Mexico, namely our children in need of a good education and those in need of mental health services.
Governor Martinez is leaving office with 46% of voters surveyed saying they DISAPPROVED of her job performance and only 35% saying they APPROVED of her job performance.
All 3 TV exit interviews of New Mexico Governor Susanna Martinez revealed someone who is very delusional as to how she will be remembered by history.No doubt it is hard for Martinez to acknowledge that she has very few accomplishments and successes to point to after 8 years. Her only claim to fame will be having been elected twice as the first Republican Hispanic female Governor in New Mexico history. The Martinez legacy is already a mere footnote with the election of the first Democrat Hispanic female Governor in New Mexico History succeeding her.
THE RISE AND FALL OF SUSANA MARTINEZ
In 2010, Martinez was elected over her Democratic opponent former Democratic Lt. Governor Diane Denish, the Lieutenant Governor who served with Governor Bill Richardson. Martinez ran more against Richardson than against Denish.
Martinez, a former multiple term District Attorney from La Cruces, campaigned on a law and order platform hammering Richardson “pay to play” scandals. Martinez repeatedly reminded everyone how she successfully prosecuted a child abuse case that resulted in the death of an infant.
Former Lt. Governor Diane Denish, although by far the most qualified to be Governor, was viewed by many as a very cold, a very aloof personality conveying a sense of entitlement to be Governor and personal wealth on her part and unable to talk to and identify with the average New Mexico voter.
Democrat Hispanics took great pride in voting for the first Hispanic female Governor, even though she was a Republican.
“THE DIRTY DOWNS DEAL” AND A FEDERAL GRAND JURY INVESTIGATION
During her first year in office, Martinez herself was alleged to have been involved with a “play to play” controversy involving the award of a $1 Billion-dollar, 25-year, Albuquerque Downs Racetrack contract, dubbed by politicos as “the Dirty Downs deal”.
The FBI investigated the contract, which was awarded to the Downs at Albuquerque in December 2011, with FBI agents interviewing people involved with the Martinez campaign and others about the lease and about campaign donations and inaugural donations. Martinez herself also answered FBI questions about the Downs lease deal. Allegations were made that the Downs at Albuquerque contract was a “pay-to-play deal”, reminiscent of those alleged during the administration of her predecessor Governor Bill Richardson.
Allegations of nefarious conduct around the Downs lease involved political insiders, significant campaign contributions to Martinez and attempts to hide political donations and contributions to Governor Martinez or her political action committee from donors connected to the Downs. Two of the Downs owners are Louisianans Bill Windham and John Turner are Republican boosters and were substantial contributors to Martinez’s campaign for Governor. Martinez received $70,000 in contributions during her campaign from Windham and Turner.
According to news reports, after her election, Windham asked for a meeting with Martinez’s transition team to discuss the future of the racino lease and offered to contribute $50,000 to the Martinez inaugural committee. According to news reports, Andrea Goff, who was executive director of the inaugural committee, was instructed to turn down Windham’s offer.
Governor Susana Martinez’s political adviser, Jay McCleskey, who was not a state employee, thrust himself right in the middle of controversy. McCleskey became upset over a two week delay to award the contract by the State Fair Commission and was angry that the commission did not approve the 25-year racino lease with the Downs at Albuquerque.
McCleskey, after the vote to delay the award of the lease, made repeated contact to complain to Andrea Goff.Andrea Goff was a Hobbs-area fundraiser who at the time was working for Martinez and raising money for Susana Pac, the Governors political action committee. Andrea Goff is the daughter-in-law of then-State Fair Commissioner Buster Goff who had cast the deciding vote to delay the award of the contract for two weeks.
Buster Goff was a Martinez appointee to the State Fair Commission and his vote was considered a betrayal to the person who appointed him.
Text messages to Andrea Goff from Jay McClesky included:
“Buster screwed us!”
“He [Buster] has just really hurt the governor,”
“The gov is furious … It is VERY bad.”
“These 2 weeks will not be used to study the proposal … they will be used to kick the crap [out] of the gov … That’s what he [Buster] needs to understand.”
“Windham [one of the Downs’ owners] will be a piñata for 2 weeks. … He [Buster Goff] was supposed to pass it [the Downs contract].”
Andrea Goff said in media interviews that she felt she was being pressured by McCleskey to somehow get her father-in-law to change his vote. Andrea Goff said she did not try to change the mind of her father in law Goff but that she did try to find out from him what happened and what his reasoning was to vote for a two-week delay. According to Andrea Goff, her father in law and other commissioners were very concerned with performance clauses in the lease and said to McCleskey:
“They want to be good public servants for the gov and the state but did not know they were just supposed to be a rubber stamp [ and just vote to approve].”
In one text message, Andrea Goff said Buster Goff had offered to resign as State Fair Commissioner. According to news reports, McCleskey ignored the resignation offer and harped to Andrea Goff about how Democrats in the New Mexico State Senate wanted to embarrass Governor Martinez. McCleskey predicted dire financial consequences for the State Fair if the lease was not approved.
The State Fair Commission eventually voted to award the contract to the Downs of Albuquerque with Commissioner Buster Goff voting for approval.
Republican operatives former Bernalillo County Sherriff Darren White, who appeared in Martinez election commercials, and former Republican National Committeeman and private attorney Pat Rogers were hired by the successful Downs Race track applicant. Both White and Rogers are known to have close ties with McClesky and no doubt played a role in influencing the award of the contract by the Martinez Administration.
McCleskey denied trying to pressure Andrea Goff in any manner. For several months, a federal grand jury had investigated Jay McCleskey regarding expenditures from Republican Martinez’s campaign, as well as money from her 2011 inauguration committee that went to McCleskey. On March 4, 2016, McClesky’s attorney announced that the federal grand jury would not indict McCleskey by saying “I’ve been informed the investigation has been terminated” and the attorney declined to answer any questions.
What happened with the “Dirty Downs Deal” was a good example of McCleskey’s aggressive conduct to defend and protect Governor Martinez at all cost during her entire 8 years in office.
It was also a good example of the vindictive way McCleskey went after people he viewed as potential problems or critics of Governor Martinez.
ON THE NATIONAL STAGE AND ON TO RE-ELECTION
On August 29, 2012, Governor Martinez made a prime-time national spotlight appearance at the Republican National Convention in Tampa, Florida, speaking minutes before Congressman Paul Ryan who was to be the vice-presidential nominee to Republican Presidential Nominee Mitt Romney. Martinez told the convention how she rose from “modest roots” in El Paso, Texas to become the nation’s first female Hispanic governor. Martinez bragged about carrying a concealed firearm to the cheers and adoration of the Republican convention.
During her first term in office, Martinez cultivated a positive, warm likeable image, no doubt crafted by Jay McClesky, of caring for children by reading books to grade school kids, ever always denying she had hirer ambitions. In 2014, Martinez easily won reelection to a second term over former Attorney General Gary King, with a 52.2% to 42.8% of the vote and outspending Gary King by well over two to one and running a very negative campaign against King.
SEIZING AND LOSING CONTROL OF THE NM HOUSE
Martinez’s victory in 2014 helped Republicans seized control of the New Mexico House of Representatives for the first time in 60 years. Republicans ended up with a 37-33 advantage in the House but that did not last long.
Martinez and the Republican house over played their hand and proceeded to preside over the House in a vindictive manner against Democrats. The Republican House approved only Republican legislation and voted down all Democrat sponsored legislation. In 2016, after losing the House of Representative chamber in 2014, Democrats regained control of the house putting Democrats in control of both the New Mexico House and Senate.
A pickup of five seats in the 2016 November general election gave Democrats a six-seat majority and Senate Democrats improved on their majority, gaining two seats and moving the chamber to a 10-seat Democratic majority.
SUSANA AND “THE DONALD”
In 2016, Donald Trump became the Republican nominee for President. Governor Susana Martinez refused to endorse Trump for President even though she supported many of his policies.
To her credit, Martinez said she was “very appalled by [Trump’s] statement when, with one stroke of a brush, he made all people from Mexico [look like criminals], describing them in a way that was absolutely, totally unfair.”
Martinez announced that she would not support Trump following the release of the Access Hollywood tapes, in which Trump made crude remarks about sexual advances he made to woman saying he could do anything as a celebrity, including grabbing woman by the genitals.
“No woman should ever be treated the way [Trump] claims he treated women,” said Martinez.
On May 25, 2016, Donald Trump attacked Governor Susana Martinez at a presidential campaign rally in Albuquerque which was reported by the New York Times.
Martinez, who in addition to being the most prominent Hispanic woman in American politics, also was the chairwoman of the Republican Governors Association.
Appearing at a campaign rally in Albuquerque, Trump unleashed a blistering assault on Martinez by saying she was “not doing the job.” Trump faulted Martinez by falsely asserting she was allowing Syrian refugees to settle in New Mexico. Trump went on to blame Martinez for Albuquerque’s high unemployment numbers as well as the increase in the number of New Mexico residents on food stamps.
GHOSTS OF CHRISTMAS “PEEEZAA” PAST
It was a very hard fall from grace and political heights from the Republican convention to the December 13, 2015 incident that revealed the true personality of Governor Martinez that many had seen privately. Governor Susana Martinez will probably be remembered most for what happened on December 13, 2015, at 1:30 am in the morning after at her Governor’s Staff Christmas Party at the El Dorado Hotel in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
The December 13, 2015 events marked the beginning of her downfall and her popularity in New Mexico.Before what happened, Martinez was considered a national rising star in the Republican party. All that changed because of the way she acted and treated people and treated law enforcement in the early morning hours of December 13, 2015. Martinez made national headlines in a very negative way.
The Huffington Post headline at the time said it all:
“Totally ‘Not Drunk’ New Mexico Governor Chastises Cops For Breaking Up Her Hotel Party”
Audio recordings obtained by local media outlets revealed hotel staff calling Santa Fe Police to ask them to kick noisy people off the hotel premises after complaints from other hotel guests. An upset Governor Martinez went to the hotel front desk at 1:30 am in the morning. Martinez took the phone from the front desk clerk to talk on the phone with the Santa Fe police dispatcher.
In one recording, Martinez is heard telling a police dispatcher to “call off” any officers who had been dispatched. A drunk sounding Martinez can be heard in one recording repeatedly insisting that the police dispatcher tell her who made the noise complaint with the hotel’s front desk. At one point, the dispatcher tells the governor: “I can’t give you that information, ma’am.”
Martinez responds “Why can you not? … It is public record. Give it to me.”
Another police recording has Martinez speaking to an officer on the phone, incredulous that cops had been sent to the hotel and she says:
“So we’re sitting in there, I’m the Governor of the State of New Mexico, and we’re in there with my sister, who’s disabled, along with about six other people who are having ‘peeezzaaa’.”
Told by the Santa Fe Police that there were reports of partying guests throwing bottles off the balcony, Martinez denied it and then admitted it by saying:
“I’m sorry. There’s no one on the balcony and there’s no one throwing bottles off the balcony … and whoever was throwing bottles is not there, hasn’t been there for like six hours … “
Governor Martinez days later apologized for what happened but only after she realized she had to do damage control when the audio recording surfaced of her admonishing Santa Fe Police officers who went to break up her hotel party. Martinez never fully apologized for her own behavior but apologized for certain staffers by saying:
“I want to apologize for the conduct of my staff on the night of our holiday party … There apparently was a party in a hotel room earlier in the night that was disruptive. None of that should have happened, and I was not aware of the extent of the ruckus and the behavior until just recently.”
At the time Martinez announced she would look into possible discipline of involved staffers, though no disciplinary action was ever announced. Her spokesman said she had had about “one cocktail.”
Martinez was revealed as the mean and vindictive person she was known for in private by many people and legislators when she demanded to know who complained and to chastise police for doing their jobs. The Martinez carefully crafted positive image of caring for and reading to children vanished within days as she made the rounds of the TV stations to apologize for her conduct.
THE MARTINEZ LEGACY OF FAILURE
There are 6 major areas that represent the Governor Susana Martinez 8-year legacy of failure:
1. A FAILED EDUCATION SYSTEM
It is laughable that Governor Martinez actually brags she did so much for New Mexico children’s education. A favorite repeated staged photo opportunity of Governor Susana Martinez over the last 8 years has been reading children’s books to kids ages 6 to 10 in public schools. We all now know the real reason why she was doing the reading herself: the kids were not proficient enough to read the children’s books out loud themselves to Republican Governor Martinez. Throughout her 8 years as Governor, Martinez was at odds with teachers over the controversial Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, or PARCC, tests.
Martinez actually thinks that the changes she and her Administration made in New Mexico’s education system are something she can be proud and boast about. The damage done by the changes Governor Martinez made in New Mexico’s education system is something she should be ashamed about. Republican Governor Susana Martinez, with her policies and her Secretary of Public Education appointments, especially the appointment of Secretary Hanna Skandera, contributed and resulted in a failing education system.
On Friday, July 20, 2018, Santa Fe District Court Judge Sarah Singleton, after a weeklong trial, ruled that the state of New Mexico is violating the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education. The court ruling was a confirmation of what went on for the last 8 years with the state’s at-risk children under the Republican Martinez Administration.
State District Judge Sarah Singleton pulled no punches with her decision. The Judge found that it was clear that many New Mexico students are not receiving the basic education in reading, writing and math they should be receiving in our public-school system. As a matter of law, Judge Singleton ruled the “lack of funds is not a defense to providing constitutional rights.”
In her blistering written opinion, Judge Singleton wrote:
“[The evidence presented at trial] proves that the vast majority of New Mexico’s at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career. … Indeed, overall New Mexico children rank at the very bottom in the country for educational achievement. … The at-risk students are still not attaining proficiency at the rate of non-at-risk students … and the programs being lauded by [the Public Education Department] are not changing this picture.”
In New Mexico, 71.6% of the state’s public-school students come from low-income families, and 14.4% are English-language learners.
Further, 14.8 percent of students have disabilities, and 10.6 percent are Native American.
Judge Singleton addressing proficiency rates for Native American students said that in the past 3 years, those students’ reading proficiency was at 17.6% and their math proficiency was at 10.4%.
The Court found that New Mexico does not have enough teachers and that New Mexico teachers are among the lowest paid in the country and stated:
“The evidence shows that school districts do not have the funds to pay for all the teachers they need. … [An example is] Gadsden, one of the better performing school districts in the state, has had to eliminate over 53 classroom positions and 15 essential teachers since 2008.”
The Court also faulted the Martinez Administration’s failure to provide access to technology in rural districts. Judge Singleton ruling addressed the state teacher evaluation system implemented by the Martinez Administration by saying:
“[The teacher evaluation system] may be contributing to the lower quality of teachers in high-need schools. … In general, punitive teacher evaluation systems that penalize teachers for working in high-need schools contribute to problems in this category of schools.”
The Court rejected the Martinez Administration’s arguments that no new funding is needed because at-risk student performances are improving.
It is very hard to comprehend Governor Martinez’s remarks about New Mexicans helping family when she essentially ignored helping children with learning disabilities with her education policies and children in need of a good education. During the last 8 years at-risk children finish each school year without the basic literacy and math skills needed to pursue post-secondary education or a career.
2. FAILING NEW MEXICO’S CHILDREN
In her Channel 7 interview, Governor Martinez, with her usual and phony emotional, teary eyed flair, said “I never lost focus on keeping our children first … . “
The truth is, things for New Mexico’s children have only gotten worse during the last 8 years under Governor Martinez’s leadership. For the first time in five years, New Mexico has fallen to last among states when it comes to the economic, educational and medical well-being of its children, according to a nonprofit that tracks the status of U.S. kids.
The most troubling in the 2018 Kids Count Data Book is New Mexico’s steep drop in ranking for health care measures which previously was a bright spot for the state.
According to the 2018 Kids Count Data Book, 30% of New Mexico’s children were living in poverty in 2016, compared to 19% nationwide that year, the earliest figures available.In educational measures, the report says 75% of the state’s fourth-graders were not proficient in reading in 2017, compared to 65% nationally, and 80% of eighth-graders were not performing up to par in math in 2017, compared to 67% across the U.S.
3. GUTTING OF MENTAL HEALTH CARE PROGRAMS
More than 160,000 New Mexicans received behavioral health services in 2014, with most of those services funded by Medicaid, according to the Human Services Department. It is very hard to comprehend Governor Martinez’s emotional remarks in here exit interview when she said “In New Mexico, we take care of our families … with some assistance from others”.
One of the cruelest things that Governor Martinez did was order an “audit” of mental health services by nonprofits in New Mexico which devastated New Mexico’s behavioral health system and those who needed “assistance from others.”
In June 2013, under the direction of Governor Martinez, the Human Services Department cut off Medicaid funding to 15 behavioral health nonprofits operating in New Mexico. The Martinez Administration said that the outside audit showed more than $36 million in overbilling, as well as mismanagement and possible fraud. The Martinez Human Services Department agency brought in the five Arizona providers to take over.
In early 2016, at least 13 of the 15 nonprofits that were shut down were exonerated of fraud by New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas. Even though AG Balderas found no fraud and cleared the nonprofits of fraud the damage had been done to the nonprofits and many just went out of business. Three of the five Arizona providers brought in by Governor Susana Martinez’s administration in 2013 to replace the New Mexico nonprofits pulled up stakes in the state and the mental health system as yet to fully recover.
4. “ALL CRIME ALL THE TIME” LEGISLATIVE SESSIONS
In 2016 and again in 2017, New Mexico had the country’s highest per capita rate of property crime and the second-highest per capita rate of violent crime. Legislative session after legislative session, Governor Susana Martinez requested the New Mexico Legislature for changes in New Mexico’s criminal laws, including to reinstate the death penalty. Martinez repeatedly sought to toughen criminal sentences for a host of offenses without even attempting to address the root causes of crime: poverty, drug abuse intervention, poor education, unemployment and social intervention.
The Governor’s proposals included a bill to toughen penalties for people who commit crimes while on probation or parole and restoring the death penalty for people convicted of murdering children and law enforcement. Martinez called for a “three-strikes” proposal that would require life sentences for repeat offenders convicted of a third violent felony.
It was the murder of children by their parents or custodians, attacks on law enforcement officers and rising crime in Albuquerque and the state that had Republican Governor Martinez and conservative Republican state lawmakers calling for New Mexico to reinstate the death penalty. Martinez falsely argued that the death penalty is the solution to stopping heinous crimes and repeat offenders, contrary to decades of well documented studies.
Governor Martinez embraced what New Mexico State Representative Monica Youngblood had to say about the death penalty when Youngblood said:
“I think [the death penalty] would be a deterrent. I mean, look what’s going on in Albuquerque. … This would be a narrow reinstatement focusing on those who kill law enforcement and children.”
All the proposed changes to New Mexico’s criminal laws by Governor Martinez were never accompanied by any increase in funding for our courts, the District Attorney’s Offices, the Public Defenders offices nor the Corrections Department which are the essential elements of the criminal justice system. Reinstating the death penalty has been a “no starter” for years and discredited with many states repealing the death penalty as a penalty that fails to stop violent crime and crimes against law enforcement.
5. CONFLICTS WITH THE LEGISLATURE AND JUDICIARY
For the full 8 years she has been in office, Martinez has had the reputation of being vindictive and mean spirited among legislators. Governor Susana Martinez will be remembered for her inability to work with the New Mexico legislature and her vindictiveness towards those she disagreed with, even with those in her own party. Political consultant Jay McCleskey for her full 8 years in office was Martinez’s number one political advisor and campaign manager who is given credit for grooming her and getting her elected twice.
McClusky is well known in political circles for his “slash and burn” political campaign tactics and negative advertising. McClusky was referred to as the “shadow governor” by many political observers. McClusky was so vital to Martinez that he was given an office on the 4th floor of the State Capitol even though he was not a state employee.
The peak of Governor Martinez’s vindictiveness and pettiness was when she made sure that her Political Action Committee headed up by Jay McClusky spent $1 million dollars to defeat long time and respected Democrat Floor Leader of the State Senate Michael Sanchez who she considered a major impediment to her policies. Martinez refused to help many in her own party with her PAC donations which many Republicans feel contributed to their loss of the Republican controlled House of Representatives in 2016.
Martinez has not gotten along any better with the New Mexico Judiciary. Many Governor Martinez vetoes were found unconstitutional by the Court’s. It was a state District Court that ruled the Martinez Administration violated the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with a sufficient education.
On April 25, 2018, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled unanimously that Governor Martinez did not follow proper constitutional procedures in vetoing 10 different bills that, for the most part, had passed the Legislature with broad bipartisan support.
The Supreme Court ruling put end to a yearlong court battle and resulted in the bills in essentially taking effect immediately. In court, state lawmakers argued the 10 vetoes were not properly carried out because the governor either took too long to act on them or did not provide an explanation with each vetoed bill.
The common consensus among many members of the legislature is that Governor Martinez vetoed the legislation in retaliation for them not supporting her policies. In August, 2018, Martinez got into the Trump act of criticizing a District Judge’s rulings based on the law when a Taos Judge released 5 defendants on bond pending trial for child abuse.
It was not surprising to the legal community that the court released the 5 defendants pending trial in that that there was no “clear and convincing evidence” as required by the law to deny them bail.
Martinez had this to say about the judge’s ruling:
“I strongly disagree with this decision. … Unfortunately, it highlights for the entire nation how extreme the New Mexico Supreme Court has been in dictating pretrial release for all kinds of dangerous criminals.”
What made the Governor Susana Martinez remarks so egregious is that she is a former 16 year elected Las Cruces District Attorney and a license New Mexico Attorney and she knows better. With her remarks, Governor Martinez was pandering to her Republican and conservative base.
Vilifying Judges is a popular tactic perfected by President Trump to gin up their conservative base.
What is not appropriate and downright dangerous conduct is for anyone to threaten any judge with physical harm over a ruling they make as was done with the Taos District Court Judge.
Martinez as a New Mexico attorney is an officer of the court, and her total failure to condemn people threatening the courts is a low as you can get even for the likes of a Republican Governor who claims to be “law and order”.
6. FAILURE AT ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
On January 1, 2011, Governor Susana Martinez was sworn in as New Mexico Governor. In 2009, New Mexico’s unemployment rate was above 7% and then went to 8% and beyond at the start of 2010.
For the full 8 years of her two terms as Governor, Martinez watched and did nothing when comes to economic development as New Mexico’s population declined dramatically with a mass exodus of educated young people looking for jobs seeking a future elsewhere.
Since 2010, 62,000 more U.S. citizens moved out of New Mexico than arrived here. In 2018, New Mexico had 3,509 more people move out than move in which was the lowest net-migration loss since 2012, according to United States census statistics. The state population has hovered around below 2.1 million since crossing the 2 million mark in 2008, according to The Santa Fe New Mexican.
For a full 8 years, Governor Susana Martinez failed to offer any viable economic development plan other than promoting corporate tax cuts. Martinez promoted “no new taxes”, reduced taxes and fees wherever she could as her economic development plan to attract new industry to New Mexico, and it was miserable failure.
In February, 2018 New Mexico’s unemployment rate was 5.8%, down, but not by much. Since 2013, New Mexico has seen more people moving out of the state each year than moving into the state, known as negative net migration.
New Mexico competes with metropolitan areas like Denver, Salt Lake City and Phoenix, which are booming with higher-paying jobs. The figures show Nevada and Idaho grew the fastest during a 12-month period that ended in July, 2018 while New Mexico had a population growth rate of 0.1%.
Robert Rhatigan, associate director of Geospatial and Population Studies at the University of New Mexico had this to say about outgoing migration:
“The migration piece is what separates us from our neighbors. Our neighbors recovered from the recession, and we didn’t. People left for better economic opportunities. As long as neighboring states are offering better-paying jobs, it will be difficult for the numbers to turn around.”
New Mexico has been chipping away at its low-wage reputation with commitments from FACEBOOK, Netflix, Safelite and Union Pacific, but they are making those commitments despite any real efforts by the Martinez Administration. The one industry that represents the future of New Mexico and a major hope for expanding New Mexico’s economy is the film industry but Martinez made sure she got in the way.
In 2002, the state film tax incentives were put in place. In 2011, Governor Susana Martinez placed a $50 million annual cap on the incentives when many advocated a much higher cap or no cap at all. The state has hit the cap every year since it was put in place by Martinez in 2011 but she refused to increase the cap for 6 years. In 2017, 74 different projects claimed every cent of the $50 million in incentives.
The film industry expands each year in large part because of tax credits. According to a 2017 report from the New Mexico Film Office, the state spent the entire $50 million allotted for film tax credits annually in 2014, and the film industry spent an estimated $513.9 million purchasing goods and services from local businesses between 2010 and 2014.
Between 2014 and 2017, the amount of direct, in-state production spending increased from $162 million to $506 million. New Mexico has received more than $234 million in direct spending into the economy from film projects in this 2017-2018 fiscal year. In the fiscal year 2017, there was nearly $506 million in direct spending into the New Mexico economy.
In 2017, Martinez vetoed a bill that would have extended tax credits to smaller film productions in the state.
Governor Martinez will be remembered most for her office pizza and beer holiday Christmas party at a Santa Fe, Hotel at taxpayer expense and the “Dirty Downs Deal”. Martinez will also be remembered for her vindictive and mean-spirited ways and her “my way or the highway” attitude.
Governor Susana Martinez’ true legacy will be that of illiterate New Mexico children, a punitive teacher evaluation system, destruction of a nonprofit mental health care system, absolutely no legislative accomplishments and a state in decline in population.
BYE FELICIA, 8 years of your failed leadership was enough.