Candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham unveils economic agenda

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A prominent Democratic candidate for New Mexico governor, Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham, spelled out her economic plan Tuesday with calls for an increase in the statewide minimum wage, lifting the cap on film-industry subsidies and ramping up renewable energy requirements for electric utilities.

Lujan Grisham’s 10-point plan aims to create new, better-paying jobs and jumpstart the economy in a state with the nation’s second highest unemployment rate and an economy that depends heavily on government programs, energy production and tourism. Two-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez cannot run for re-election in 2018.

The economic plan highlights opportunities in the renewable energy and energy efficiency sectors, pledging support for legislation that would increase solar- and wind-energy supplies, and to overhaul state buildings that waste energy.

It also calls for a constitutional amendment to increase funding to pre-kindergarten education with money from a state sovereign wealth fund.

Similar proposals to tap the fund for public education have stalled in the state’s Democratic-led Legislature — as has legislation to increase renewable energy production and put more solar panels on state buildings.

Congressman Steve Pearce, the only candidate seeking the GOP nomination for governor so far, has yet to release a detailed state economic plan.

Pearce spokesman Greg Blair emphasized the need to attack poverty in New Mexico with better-paying jobs and educational improvements.

Other economic remedies proposed by Lujan Grisham include in-state business preferences for state government purchasing, shifting state savings to expand a small-business development lending corporation, and new investments in vocational training and infrastructure such as roads, bridges, water systems and broadband internet.

New Mexico state government has been hard-pressed to maintain spending on infrastructure and at agencies amid a downturn in tax revenues linked to a tepid economy and fluctuating oil prices. The state cut funding to public colleges and universities this year, as it struggled to maintain adequate reserves.

Lujan Grisham also suggested the appointment of a “small business and entrepreneur” advocate modeled after efforts in Boston and Sacramento, California. A state Office of Business Advocacy was created under Martinez.


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