3 Dems Flip, Depriving NM Kids of $50-84M a Year Plus What Our Bills Would Do for Working Families

Yesterday we saw first hand how things can go when Democrats flip and the 3 Dems who flipped were all from Santa Fe and ABQ. Humiliating. Infuriating. Today, we also examine the potential impact on a family of five of passing just four of Retake’s MUST PASS bills. It will make you realize in human terms what is at stake and how easily we can make it happen and how easily we can fail.

Dems Flip. NM Children Lose and We Name Names:  Maestas, Trujillo, Ruiloba

New Mexico hasn’t raised its gas and oil royalties since the 1970’s and the current royalty rates are 25% below neighboring Texas. That translates into between $50-$84 million in annual lost revenue, revenue that could provide important support to our K-12 education system. Our Governor has proudly proclaimed her primary goal of this session to be for an “education moonshot.” Well an important resource supporting that goal has been tabled and may be dead due to the votes of not one or two, but of three Democrats, one from Santa Fe and two from Albuquerque. Let’s start by thanking Rep. Dennis Lente for sponsoring HB 398. Our Retake volunteer observing the hearing reported that both Lente and Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richards made excellent presentations on the bill. But Ryan Flynn and the NM Gas and Oil Association did an equally skilled job of mischaracterizing truth and making it seem like the sky would fall should we simply raise royalties to the level of Texas and only on future leases and only  on the top six percent of producing wells. To be clear this would mean that only if a well reached 20,000 barrels of oil in a month would their royalty rate rise to the level of Texas.  And that was unacceptable to NMGOA. And their fear tactics worked on three Democrats.

As Garcia Richards described: “The oil and gas industry has painted a picture that we are being greedy and that we should just be happy with what we are getting,” said Garcia Richard, who since winning office has waged a campaign for higher royalty rates. “The truth is that what we are getting is a tiny fraction of the profits that they are making of our public resources; profits that line their pockets while our kids are being left behind.”

So who is responsible for falling for the lies of the gas and oil industry: Rep. and Committee Chair Mo Maestas, Reps. Jim Trujillo of Santa Fe and Patricio Ruiloba of Albuquerque joined with Republicans to kill this bill. Contact info for each of these legislators is provided at the bottom of this post. They need to hear from you.  I need to be very clear: there are a ton of people responding to our Network alerts, but we need more people engaged and pushing our legislators. This vote is a warning that if we are not calling, emailing and showing up, some very good bills will be killed. If you have not joined the Network, please do so right now by clicking here. As importantly, and we say this all the time: share this with 3-4 people or some group or organization. With more of you pushing bills like this become law. And to appreciate what is at stake, read on.

What MUST PASS Bills Can Mean to a Working Families

Your wife works at a small hotel cleaning rooms. You work as a busboy at the same hotel’s lounge. You both earn $7.50 an hour and have three young children. What can Retake Our Democracy’s MUST PASS bills mean to you.

  • If SB 31 becomes law, your gross income increases from $30,000 a year to $40,000 with future increases boosting that income to $48,000.
  • If HB 18 passes the family will also receive a $525 annual tax credit, protecting some of their income increase from taxation. Think of it as winter clothes, school supplies, and some gas money that they don’t have to worry about.
  • If HB 183 the Working Family Tax Credit passes, the family would also enjoy another $1300 tax credit
  • If HB 160 passes, this family’s income gains will not trigger their loss of child care subsidies. What is the impact here? With assistance, a family earning $40,840 per year spends %13 of their income on child care via co-pays. If that family earns just $1 more, they lose assistance and pay 38% of their income on child care. Not if HB 160 passes.

So what is the net effect on this family? An immediate increase of $10,000 in income, tax credits of almost $2000 and protected childcare subsidies so they do not lose the benefit derived from their increase in income. $12,000 in additional income to a family with three children living on $30,000 a year will not send this family to a Wall St broker to invest in securities, but it will keep them being the fodder of predatory lenders, it will keep their children in warm winter clothes, it will prevent their children from going to bed hungry.  And this will happen with tens of thousands of NM families.

Ok, this will ONLY happen if we take advantage of the opportunity before us. All of these economic justice bills could still become law, but every one of them could wind up with the same fate of HB 380, tabled or killed in committee.

I am guessing that less than 5% of the people who receive this blog face the choices that the family of five I described face each day. We have some level of privilege, some amount of spare time and we could use today, to go for a walk, see a movie, read a book. But we could also carve out a few minutes to engage a few friends and encourage them to subscribe to the Network and to ask them to make a habit of calling their legislators when these bills are coming to committee. If you had kids with three kids of their own and you could increase their income by 33% and lift them out of poverty, you would do whatever it took to do this. Well, the children I describe and the tens of thousands of other children here in NM living in poverty are your children. And you can lift them out of poverty. This legislature only meets for four more weeks and I am begging all of you to use this one month to get in the game and to bring friends. We can do something incredibly important or we can fail and leave families poor and the planet unprotected. I doubt you could possibly have anything much more important to do with your Saturday and Sunday.  Just saying.

Click here to join the Network. You will receive alerts with speaking points whenever one of our bills goes to a committee or the floor for a vote. And you will go to bed at night knowing you’ve done your part to lift thousands of NM children out of poverty. That is what is at stake. Let’s do this!  And let’s also let the legislators below know what you think of their vote to table HB 398.

In solidarity,

Paul & Roxanne

Tell these legislators that you are not happy at all that they have deprived NM education of $50-$84M for their education because they couldn’t vote for a bill that would have only raised gas and oil royalties to the level in Texas and only on the highest, most profitable wells in NM. And you can give all of them a call at their homes TODAY. I spoke with Rep. Ruiloba this morning at the Roundhouse and he indicated that with amendments the bill could be restored, but he also had clearly fallen for industry concerns that somehow this was too big a hike and had not been vetted during interim committee hearings. Rep. Jim Trujillo said not a word during the hearing, so when calling him you may ask why he voted as he did.

You might also mention this, from one of our supporters:  “Let’s be clear–the state is not the greedy one here–the petro-industry is. And their argument that raising state revenue rates will drive drillers and jobs away is absurd on its face. Where will drillers go? To Texas, where the tax rate is already at the higher level? And what would become of drillers’ highly-prized oil/gas leases if they did leave? Those leases would *expire*, and the state could turn right around and re-lease at the higher revenue rate.

I don’t see how anyone in the oil patch would ever simply abandon leases–their threat to leave is empty. It’s time to get tough with O&G, and it’s time to get tough with legislators who betray the state’s interest. ”  Wow. Couldn’t have said that any better. Let’s call and call and call.

Rep. Moe Maestas, Dist 16 ABQ

Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, Dist 12, ABQ

Rep. Jim Trujillo, Dist 45, Santa Fe

6 thoughts on “3 Dems Flip, Depriving NM Kids of $50-84M a Year Plus What Our Bills Would Do for Working Families

  1. Paul,

    I’m in the healthcare research group, but this revenue bill fail hurts everyone, regardless of interest.

    Let’s be clear–the state is not the greedy one here–the petro-industry is. And their argument that raising state revenue rates will drive drillers and jobs away is absurd on its face. Where will drillers go? To Texas, where the tax rate is already at the higher level? And what would become of drillers’ highly-prized oil/gas leases if they did leave? Those leases would *expire*, and the state could turn right around and re-lease at the higher revenue rate.

    I don’t see how anyone in the oil patch would ever simply abandon leases–their threat to leave is empty. It’s time to get tough with O&G, and it’s time to get tough with legislators who betray the state’s interest.

    Down the road, we need to think seriously about developing capacity to primary these bad legislators.

    • I am using your comments to update the post. I spoke with Rep. Ruilobo today. He indicated that the bill could be brought back to a vote, but he wants amendments and gave some rather lame reasons for killing $80M of funding. Your arguments are excellent. We have a good deal to do as other energy bills go to more committees. G&O is gearing up to kill them all. Thanks for this

    • Someone else told me earlier…fixed….and thanks. I’ve also updated the page. You may want to see it now. I’ve added some at the bottom

  2. Paul. I am of course shocked by this information. I have spread your address and this report around some in hopes of people contacting these “Democrats”! I am wondering whether it is possible for us to demand that Maestas be removed as Chairman of his Committee? I am not familiar with NM Legal stuff here, but that is allowed and been done at the National level! I think it important that we hold these men accountable!

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