A few weeks ago, after I posted a picture of myself with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, I was asked by a very close friend what she is really like. I was able to respond without any hesitancy and said she is a person of compassion and decency that genuinely cares about people and how they are treated.
With that said, I told my friend what I witnessed some years ago when I attended an invitation only fundraising event for then Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham. The event was in the evening and held at a private residence with about 60 people attending. A staff person was at the front door to check in people with Lujan Grisham already inside.
Once inside, I found myself standing about 15 feet from her as she talked to another. Supporters were waiting outside to hear her speak. Soon, her staff person approached her and pulled her aside to talk to her. I was still close enough to overhear the conversation, but she was not aware that I was watching nor could hear her.
The staff person told Lujan Grisham that a person who also knew me and who I was familiar with, and one known by many to suffer from mental health problems and hostile outbursts, had showed up at the front door wanting to attend the event. The person was a Democrat and known to be highly critical of Lujan Grisham and me as well. The aide did not know the person, he only had a name, and described the person as being on foot and his personal hygiene was less than desirable. He was not dressed properly for the event. The aide asked Lujan Grisham if he should deny the uninvited person access and send him away. Congresswoman Lujan Grisham without hesitation said NO, he was to be let in. She further instructed her aide to talk to him in private and make sure he got something to eat and to make sure he got home safely given that it was already night time and he was on foot.
Having been around and even having worked for elected officials and candidates for office for at least 50 years, which is way too many years, I have found that it is when the press, the cameras and a crowd are not around that a public figure reveals what they truly are as a person, what they really stand for, and their character. Lujan Grisham over her entire public service career has always paid special attention to behavioral health care. She has especially done so over the last 4 years trying to rebuild our mental health care system destroyed by her Republican predecessor. Her one act of kindness I witnessed in private at a political event earned my respect and support. She has earned a second term.
GOVERNOR MICHELLE LUJAN GRISHAM
Governor Lujan Grisham (61) was born and raised in New Mexico. Lujan Grisham previously served as the U.S. representative for New Mexico’s 1st congressional district from 2013 to 2019. Lujan Grisham served as the state Secretary of Health from 2004 to 2007 and as Bernalillo County commissioner from 2010 to 2012. She was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 2012. In 2016, Lujan Grisham was selected as the chair of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus. She won the Democratic nomination for governor of New Mexico in 2018 and defeated Republican Steve Pearce on November 6, 2018 in a landslide.
Lujan Grisham’s priorities during her first term have been dealing with the Corona Virus pandemic, public education reform, funding from K thorough 12 and college education funding, rebuilding the state’s mental health care system destroyed by her predecessor, creation of the “Early Childhood Department”, revitalization and funding of the “Children Youth and Family Department”, increase funding for law enforcement to deal with crime and enactment of anti-crime measures just to mention a few.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham was personally asked to submit for publication on this blog an article outlining her positions on the major issues facing New Mexico. Following is her position on the major issues prepared by her campaign. The issues are listed by this blog in the order considered important for the election:
ABORTION AND WOMAN’S REPRODUCTIVE RIGHTS
Every woman and every New Mexican deserve access to reproductive health care. That is why Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham continues to be a champion for women’s health care. In 2021, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham made history by repealing New Mexico’s 50-year-old criminal abortion statute, protecting New Mexicans access to abortion and ensuring women and their families have the right to make their own choices about pregnancy and reproductive health. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham also funded the expansion of postpartum coverage under Medicaid from 60 days to 12 months, guaranteeing New Mexico’s new mothers can focus on themselves and their babies in the first year of life. In 2022, the Governor signed legislation eliminating the “tampon tax,” ensuring necessary feminine hygiene products are affordable. With Michelle as governor, New Mexico remains a safe haven for reproductive health care and women’s rights. No politician, no voter and no government has any right to tell a woman what she can do with her own body when it comes to a woman’s right to an abortion and her personal reproductive rights.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham believes that every New Mexican deserves to feel safe in their community. From her first days in office, the Governor has executed an all-of-the-above approach to public safety, including addressing the root causes of crime, and ensuring law enforcement offices across New Mexico have the resources and the tools they need to keep communities safe.
In order to promote public safety, New Mexico must address the root causes of crime. That’s why Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has taken critical steps to reduce poverty, invest in behavioral health and addiction services, remove financial barriers to higher education and career training, and bring more jobs to New Mexico. When New Mexicans have the resources, they need to thrive, crime rates go down.
Governor Lujan Grisham has been consistent in her support of the dedicated men and women who protect New Mexicans every day. The Governor knows that keeping communities’ safe starts with law enforcement officers who answer the call to serve their communities, doing everything from knocking on senior’s homes in Chama when the power goes out during a winter storm, to cracking down on driving under the influence, to keeping violent offenders off of Albuquerque’s streets.
Governor Lujan Grisham implemented 16% pay raises for state police officers and made critical investments into our law enforcement, allocating over $100 million to give law enforcement in New Mexico communities, large and small alike, the tools they need to keep New Mexicans safe. Governor Lujan Grisham championed funding to hire, recruit, and retain law enforcement officers, build new facilities and improve existing ones, create a new state-of-the-art crime lab, repair and replace critical protective and analytical equipment, and acquire new vehicles for law enforcement officers.
Keeping New Mexicans safe also means keeping guns out of the hands of criminals and keeping violent offenders off our streets. For the past two years, Lujan Grisham has passed bipartisan crime legislative packages that increase the sentencing for gun crimes, particularly for felons, in order to deter gun violence. Governor Lujan Grisham championed many measures that will save New Mexican lives and curb the scourge of gun violence.
The Governor pushed for universal background checks for gun purchases and signed legislation known as the “red flag law” that allows the courts to temporarily disarm individuals who are at risk of harming themselves or others. While balancing the right to bear arms and public safety, Governor Lujan Grisham is making sure fewer New Mexicans suffer from violent acts of crime.
EDUCATING OUR CHILDREN
As a grandmother and mother, Michelle Lujan Grisham understands that New Mexico’s children are the key to New Mexico’s future. The Governor has prioritized education throughout her career in public service, fighting to ensure that every New Mexico student, no matter where they live or what their background is, has access to the high-quality education they deserve.
From day one in the governor’s office, Michelle Lujan Grisham worked tirelessly to deliver an education moonshot, investing over $1 billion into New Mexico’s education system. Governor Lujan Grisham will never stop fighting for New Mexico’s students, parents, educators, and schools.
A product of New Mexico’s public schools’ system, Lujan Grisham is dedicated to uplifting every student, parent, educator, and school in New Mexico. Lujan Grisham led the effort to ensure every New Mexico school has the resources they need to serve their students. She made New Mexico the first state in the nation to create an innovative way to send investments to schools with concentrated poverty and doubled the number of community schools.
In response to the Yazzie v. State of New Mexico landmark public education decision that ruled the state of New Mexico violated the constitutional rights of at-risk students by failing to provide them with an education, Govern Lujan Grisham undertook to fully fund the state’s efforts to reform the State’s public education system and she was highly successful. It has taken a full 4 years to get the job done.
Lujan Grisham succeeded in securing over $1 Billion dollars for public education during the 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022 legislative sessions. In addition to the dramatic increases in public education funding, Lujan Grisham administration created the Early Childhood Department, issued mandates to the Children, Youth and Families and Public Education departments, and increased the number CYFD social workers by at least 125.
An Early Childhood Trust Fund of $320 million was also created. The base pay for teachers was increased by upwards of 20% and have risen to $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000 depending on the level of years of teacher experience. During the 2022 New Mexico legislative session, more than $70 million was allocated to tribal entities to help offer culturally relevant lesson plans and access to virtual and after-school programs for those students. The money will be used to create culturally relevant learning programs, including Native language programs, for students in the K-12 system.
Governor Lujan Grisham partnered with sovereign nations, tribes, and pueblos to make long-awaited investments in education in tribal communities and because of the Governor’s efforts, New Mexico is now leading the nation in setting aside funds for bilingual and multicultural education.
A PROMISE MADE A PROMISE KEPT TO EDUCATORS AND OUR CHILDREN
In her campaign for governor, Governor Lujan Grisham promised to be a champion for New Mexico’s educators, and she has kept her promise. Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s leadership, New Mexico teachers received the most significant back- to-back raises for educators in 15 years and has successfully reduced teacher vacancies by nearly 25% in 2019. This year, the Governor delivered a 7% salary increase and a base pay increase for every New Mexico educator, making New Mexico teacher wages the highest in the region. Governor Lujan Grisham also put tens of millions of dollars toward scholarships for educator training programs, helping more than 3,000 New Mexico teachers this year alone.
New Mexicans have long called for universal pre-k and affordable childcare. Governor Lujan Grisham delivered by expanding affordable, high-quality childcare to thousands of New Mexico families and secured permanent funding to ensure New Mexico will continue to provide families with affordable options for their children’s education for decades to come. Lujan Grisham established universal pre-k for four-year-olds and greatly expanded pre-k for three-year-olds.
Governor Lujan Grisham has made New Mexico a national leader in guaranteeing 100% tuition-free higher education for all New Mexico students. The Governor is eliminating barriers to higher education like student debt and burdensome fees that keep too many students, no matter their age, background, or family situation, from getting the training and the job they want and deserve. By creating and funding the Opportunity Scholarships and restoring the promise of the Lottery Scholarships, Lujan Grisham expanded scholarships for 2-year, 4-year and certificate programs, helping tens of thousands of New Mexico students attend college for free.
THE ECONOMY AND JOB CREATION
Governor Lujan Grisham is making New Mexico’s economy work for the everyday New Mexican.
Lujan Grisham’s top priority has been growing and diversifying New Mexico’s economy because she knows industry and job opportunities all across the state are critical to ensuring that New Mexico families and communities thrive. By supporting small businesses, helping to create thousands of jobs, and spurring the investment of billions of dollars in New Mexico’s economy, Governor Lujan Grisham is delivering on her promise to grow and diversify New Mexico’s economy.
During Lujan Grisham’s tenure, New Mexico has ranked in the top 10 for job growth in the country overall. As one of her first actions in office, Governor Lujan Grisham redesigned New Mexico’s economic development tools, which have helped create over ten thousand jobs in every corner of our state. That’s a record high for New Mexico, and with the Governor’s support it will only go higher.
Governor Lujan Grisham has prioritized making New Mexico more business friendly. As a result of Lujan Grisham’s leadership, exciting new companies, such as NET FLEX, NBC Universal and 828 Productions invested heavily in New Mexico and established New Mexico partners dramatically increased their investments. In was in 2019 that Governor Lujan Grisham signed into law legislation that funded and gave tax incentives to companies to collaborate with the state through partnership agreements. The 2019 legislation raised the 2011 cap on what the state could pay out to film and TV productions from $50 million to $110 million per year. It also authorizing the spending of up to $225 million to pay down an accumulated backlog in film incentives.
Netflex, NBC Universal and 828 Productions have all announced major projects and investment in the state. Netflix announced a 300-acre expansion in the state with a commitment to spend another $1 billion over 10 years, doubling the company’s original commitment to the state. NBCUniversal also opened a production facility in Albuquerque with a commitment to $500 million in direct production spending over the next 10 years and 330 full-time-equivalent jobs. On August 13, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that California-based 828 Productions is relocating its headquarters to Las Cruces joining Netflix and NBCUniversal as film partners within the state. 828 Productions plans to invest $75 million to build a 300,000-square-foot studio and 20-acre back lot over the next six years, creating at least 100 high-paying jobs in Las Cruces. 828 Productions has purchased a 7,500-square-foot office building in downtown Las Cruces. It will be used for training, post-production and visual effects work. It is also hiring for key positions.
Governor Lujan Grisham cut red tape making it easier for businesses to thrive and encouraging hundreds of businesses to relocate to our state. Working alongside business and community leaders, Lujan Grisham has helped create a real pipeline of jobs and opportunity in our state and making New Mexico the frontier of economic growth under her leadership. Governor Lujan Grisham is not just focused on attracting exciting new businesses and entrepreneurs to New Mexico, she’s also making sure we’re using New Mexico’s powerful economic tools to grow our small businesses right here at home. Lujan Grisham efforts have also supported the expansion of homegrown companies like Bueno Foods in Albuquerque and Saputo Dairy in Las Cruces.
MORE PROMISES MADE, PROMISES KEPT
Governor Lujan Grisham kept her campaign promise to legalize cannabis, partnering with small businesses, advocates, and legislators to create an entirely new statewide economic industry in New Mexico that prioritizes homegrown microbusinesses and local producers. Thanks to Governor Lujan Grisham, legalization has paved the way for a new economic driver in New Mexico. It is a new industry that is creating over 11,000 new jobs, raising an estimated $20 million in revenue for the state in the first year, and amounting to over $318 million in annual sales of recreational cannabis. Legal cannabis is going to create thousands of jobs and serious tax revenue for local governments to support local services in every corner of New Mexico.
On March 31, 2021 in a special session of the New Mexico legislature, the state became the 18 state to legalize recreational cannabis. New rules and regulations governing licensing, production and sales of recreational marijuana have now been fully implemented and commercial sales began on April 1. According to the state’s Cannabis Control Division, the state’s cannabis industry in August brought in $24.2 million in adult-use sales, a new record high, surpassing July’s adult-use sales of $23.5 million. Overall sales numbers, which includes medical cannabis transactions, stood at nearly $40.7 million in August, according to the data. That number is up from July’s overall sales of $40.3 million, which at the time was also a record high.
With new investments in vocational training, higher education and certificate programs, Governor Lujan Grisham is also building a workforce right here at home that will strengthen and grow New Mexico’s economy for years to come. Through New Mexico’s Job Training Incentive Program, Governor Lujan Grisham helped companies train over 5,000 workers while earning competitive salaries. New Mexico’s workforce is the powerhouse of our economy which is why Governor Lujan Grisham has made strides for workers.
Lujan Grisham raised New Mexico’s minimum wage and transformed New Mexico’s Public Employee’s Retirement Association (PERA) retirement pension funds giving workers the comfort they need to ensure that when retirement comes, their pensions will be safe and secured. She also passed legislation guaranteeing paid-sick leave for every employee in the state, giving every New Mexican the chance to make a living wage so they can support themselves and their families.
AFFORDBLE HEATH CARE
Governor Lujan Grisham knows that for far too long, New Mexicans have been forced to choose between their putting food on the table and their health. Lujan Grisham is committed to making affordable, high-quality, and comprehensive health care available to every New Mexican, from urban to rural to tribal communities. Governor Lujan Grisham will continue to address endemic issues in New Mexico’s healthcare system in order to make accessible and affordable health care a reality for all.
Governor Lujan Grisham understands that the best way to make health care accessible to New Mexicans is to lower the cost of health care. By establishing the Health Care Affordability Fund, Lujan Grisham reduced the cost of health insurance and medical expenses for tens of thousands of New Mexico families. Governor Lujan Grisham also took critical steps to protect safeguards under the Affordable Care Act for New Mexicans so that the 337,000 New Mexicans with preexisting conditions would never have to face a denial of coverage or higher price due to no fault of their own.
New Mexicans across the state struggle with the high cost of prescription drugs. Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico became the third state in the country to cap monthly insulin copayments, lowering health care costs for New Mexicans living with diabetes. Michelle Lujan Grisham also signed legislation to allow New Mexico to import lower-cost prescription drugs from Canada, one of the first states in the country to do so. These health care measures will get New Mexicans the medicine they need at a cost they can afford.
REBUILDING A BEHAVIORAL HEALTH CARE SYSTEM
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham believes that health care is not comprehensive without affordable, high-quality behavioral health treatment. From day one, Lujan Grisham has taken decisive action to rebuild the state’s behavioral health system after it was fraudulently destroyed by the previous Republican Martinez administration. In 2013, more than 160,000 New Mexicans received behavioral health services, with most of those services funded by Medicaid. In June 2013, under the direction of the former Republican Governor, the Human Services Department (HSD) cut off Medicaid funding to 15 behavioral health nonprofits operating in New Mexico alleging Medicaid fraud overbilling. In early 2016, following exhaustive investigations, the Attorney General cleared all 15 of the healthcare providers of any wrongdoing and exonerated all of them of fraud. Even though the Attorney General found no fraud and cleared the nonprofits of wrongdoing, the damage had been done to the nonprofits. With the Medicaid funding freeze, many of the 15 nonprofits could not continue and just went out of business leaving many patients without a behavioral health service provider especially in rural New Mexico.
In addition to working with providers to establish new services and new networks, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham eliminated copays for behavioral health services, making sure behavioral health is affordable and accessible to all New Mexicans. Lujan Grisham eliminated copays on behavioral health visits, so that mental health care and addiction counseling could be affordable for New Mexicans. All of Governor Lujan Grisham’s work to lower costs for families and workers and invest in critical services has lifted countless New Mexicans out of poverty.
As a caregiver herself, Michelle Lujan Grisham personally knows the importance of and the strength and resilience it takes to provide for New Mexico’s seniors. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed legislation to invest millions to improve and deliver high quality services for New Mexico’s seniors and create automatic low-cost retirement savings options.
THE ENVIRONMENT AND FIGHT AGAINST CLIMATE CHANGE
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham understands that climate change is an existential threat facing our planet and we cannot kick the can down the road to future generations. Lujan Grisham has taken decisive action to protect New Mexico’s land, air, and water, and she will continue to take bold action to address the climate crisis, create clean energy jobs, and protect the Land of Enchantment’s critical natural resources. Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s leadership, New Mexico has become a national leader in the fight against climate change and now countries across the globe are looking to New Mexico for leadership.
As one of her first acts in office, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed landmark energy legislation setting bold statewide renewable energy standards and establishing a pathway for a low-carbon energy transition. Lujan Grisham joined New Mexico to the U.S. Climate Alliance and adopted the goals of the Paris Climate Accord. Governor Lujan Grisham also committed New Mexico to conserving 30% of all land by 2030, ensuring New Mexicans’ access to the open spaces the Land of Enchantment is known for. With every step, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has protected New Mexico’s natural resources, increased access for outdoor recreation, and built the state’s climate change resilience.
On March 10, 2022 Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that Universal Hydrogen has chosen a 50-acre parcel of property northeast of the passenger terminal at the Albuquerque International Sunport to build a manufacturing and distribution center in New Mexico with a goal of hiring hundreds of employees in Albuquerque. The location includes access to a runway and the potential future reclamation of a rail spur south of the Sunport. Universal Hydrogen is a manufacturer and distributor of hydrogen storage modules, assembles airplane retrofit kits and performs aftermarket maintenance services, and manage administrative activities. Universal Hydrogen is a company with a mission to enable carbon-free fuel and reduce the climate impact of air travel. New Mexico will be at the heart of the company’s mission to decarbonize hard-to-abate greenhouse gas emissions in aviation, ground transportation, and heavy industry to help the United States meet the Paris Agreement goals. The company also has facilities in California, Washington State, and Toulouse, France.
Throughout her tenure, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has aggressively pursued polluters and established rules that will reduce harmful emissions and create even more jobs through detecting and capping gas leaks that harm our air. By adopting stringent methane reduction rules, Lujan Grisham eliminated clean venting and flaring in New Mexico and committed the state to capturing 98% of all-natural gas waste by the end of 2026. Under Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham, New Mexico now has the most controlled greenhouse and methane requirements in the country.
Governor Lujan Grisham is putting New Mexico at the forefront of the clean energy industry that will produce good jobs and a bright future for New Mexicans. Since Lujan Grisham took office, New Mexico has more than doubled its wind energy capacity and is one of the largest economies for solar energy
REDUCING TAXES, RAISING THE MINIMUM WAGE AND PAID SICK LEAVE
Michelle Lujan Grisham believes that as governor, the most important aspect of her job is making sure New Mexicans have what they need to thrive. That’s why Michelle has delivered for New Mexico’s families and businesses by putting money directly into their pockets and addressing the issues they care about most. From cutting the state Gross Receipts tax and the Social Security tax, to passing tax credits for New Mexico’s middle class, to lowering the cost of everyday needs like prescription drugs and childcare, Governor Lujan Grisham is saving money for every New Mexican.
Governor Lujan Grisham is making a difference by making sure that families prosper. Lujan Grisham cut taxes for New Mexico’s middle class in one of the most comprehensive tax overhauls in the country, putting money in the pockets of more than 550,000 New Mexican families. Governor Lujan Grisham Michelle is leading the way with the most significant and progressive reform of the tax code in a generation, creating meaningful change for average New Mexicans.
Governor Lujan Grisham isn’t just helping families, she also cut taxes for every single New Mexican and New Mexico business. This year, Lujan Grisham brought Republicans and Democrats together to implement the first Gross Receipts Tax cut in 40 years, saving New Mexicans $195 million in the first year alone. She also signed legislation repealing most Social Security taxes to get relief straight to New Mexico’s seniors, saving them an average of $730 per year.
Making sure New Mexicans feel relief and can thrive is about more than tax cuts, it is also about making everyday items and services affordable. That is why Governor Lujan Grisham raised New Mexico’s minimum wage for the first time in a decade and guaranteed paid sick leave for all New Mexican workers and so no New Mexican would ever have to quit their jobs due to a medical emergency.
She also cut the cost of prescription drugs, reduced premiums, and eliminated copays for behavioral health. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham also implemented universal pre-k and ensured every New Mexican who wants to go to college, or a certificate training program can do so – for free. Michelle even helped families in need cover their utility bills by getting homeowners the assistance they need Michelle is helping all New Mexicans grow right here in our state.
LEADERSHIP DURING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC
Governor Lujan Grisham led one of the most effective COVID-19 responses in the country, defying New Mexico’s odds and leading to lower case numbers and fewer deaths than neighboring states like Arizona and Texas. While other states had limited test availability and result delays, New Mexico was one of the first states to begin and maintain a widespread COVID-19 testing program to limit the spread of the virus. Through the uncertainty of the pandemic, Governor Lujan Grisham mobilized New Mexico’s response to COVID-19 more effectively than many other states.
Governor Lujan Grisham demonstrated fearless and diligent leadership in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, saving lives and protecting New Mexico’s booming economy. Throughout the pandemic, Lujan Grisham’s priority was keeping New Mexicans safe and ensuring New Mexico businesses received the support that they needed. Her strong leadership and decisive actions saved the lives of countless New Mexicans.
The general election is scheduled for Tuesday, November 8 and early voting begins on Tuesday, October 11. Please vote for the election of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham to a second term.