STEVEN ON THE ISSUES
New Mexico communities can and will thrive, but first we have to make sure that hard working people have access to good paying jobs. This starts with a plan to diversify our economy by supporting both small business and larger business growth. Small businesses make up 99% of New Mexico businesses and employ 54.2% of the private workforce. As a small business owner, I understand the importance of having incentives for small business growth and providing good paying jobs to New Mexicans.
Throughout my career I have worked with rural and urban communities across the state to attract new funding and build economic development opportunities that have expanded business growth. These projects created good paying jobs for New Mexicans in the construction, healthcare, agriculture, tourism and technology sectors. I worked with the governor, local and tribal leaders to create the Tribal and Colonias Infrastructure Funds that, still today, bring millions of dollars in infrastructure funding to communities to meet basic needs and develop infrastructure that is critical for economic growth.
We need to provide opportunities for our children and future generations to live, work and prosper in New Mexico! In Washington, I will work to support small business growth to provide good-paying jobs for hard working New Mexicans. I’ll work with stakeholders to develop a coordinated plan to diversify our economy and provide viable job opportunities. I’ll work with local universities, community colleges and schools to obtain much-needed funding to support successful transitions into workforce training programs so our students can obtain good paying jobs in the workforce. Too often, Washington forgets New Mexico when it comes to federal funding. I will fight to ensure that New Mexico is not forgotten and bring critical funding for roads, broadband, healthcare, transportation, agriculture, energy and education.
I believe that Congress should work in a bipartisan effort to ensure that everyone has access to quality, comprehensive and affordable healthcare. This doesn’t mean that we have to create an entirely new system, which will only add more problems. We need to address the issues of the current system and refine it to better serve New Mexicans.
Too often rural communities are left behind. Many New Mexicans travel miles to seek basic healthcare only to be greeted by a new doctor every few months. We can do better than this. In Congress, I will work to ensure that healthcare providers, serving some of the most vulnerable populations in rural areas of our state, have the resources necessary to incentivize medical providers and provide quality healthcare, dental, behavioral health.
When we think of healthy communities, most of us don’t think of a medical clinic being the only answer, because we know the wellbeing of our communities is not dependent on healthcare alone. Healthy communities have many positive attributes including access to: healthy food, good paying jobs, workforce training, outdoor recreation, childcare and continuing education. We need to provide incentives to healthcare providers to increase health outcomes and provide comprehensive approaches to healthcare by establishing partnerships to address these social determinants of health.
For decades we have paid little attention to a growing health issue throughout our country. That issue is behavioral health. When our children are afraid to go to school, our airports are locked down like prisons and we’re faced with daily headlines of our children being neglected or abused we cannot continue to ignore it! In Congress, I will fight for adequate funding to address both current and upstream issues, because I believe our children deserve to have brighter futures!
We need to work together to ensure that every senior is able to live healthy and independent lives for as long as possible. More than 30 percent of New Mexico's population will be over age 60 by the year 2030, an increase of nearly 50 percent from 2012.
Many seniors make the choice between whether they will eat a meal or buy their medications. They shouldn’t have to! I will work to ensure that prescription medications remain affordable and that supplemental insurance is affordable and work to safeguard social security.
In Congress, I will fight to safeguard and increase funding for the Older American’s Act, which provides home and community-based services, congregate and delivered meals and other nutrition programs, in-home services, transportation, legal services, elder abuse prevention and caregivers support. These programs are critical to helping seniors stay as independent as possible in their homes and their communities.
There is no greater investment that we can make in the long-term vitality of New Mexico than in the education of our children. For decades, New Mexico has ranked at the bottom of nearly every national comparison of child wellbeing and academic outcomes. However, we know that our children are just as capable and have just as much potential as their peers in any other state. The challenge is an issue of fairness. Some children have access to a quality education and others do not. We need more fairness in our education system, ensuring that all children receive the quality educational programs and services they need in order to reach their fullest potential. From cradle to career, every New Mexican child must have access to quality education programs and support systems to help them thrive.
In New Mexico, our rich diversity is our strength. Seventy-six percent of New Mexican school children come from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds, which means our public school system should look different. Children learn best when schools meet them where they are at by connecting their home languages and cultures to academic standards and learning.
The research is clear that investing in early childhood development and education nets higher returns than any Wall Street trader could hope for. For every dollar we invest in the education of our youngest children, we can expect a 13% return. Every child deserves the opportunity for a healthy start that also prepares them for school. While New Mexico continues to expand and improve upon its early childhood programs at the state level, I will work to increase funding for federal programs that work in concert with the state initiatives such as Head Start and the home visiting through Medicaid program.
LAND AND WATER
Like so many New Mexicans, I come from a family that has historic ties to Northern New Mexico’s land grants and Acequias. In the 1800’s my grandparents were farmers and ranchers in the community of Arroyo Seco, New Mexico located in northern Taos County, where they worked and cultivated the land for our family and our community.
Through traditional land grants and Acequia communities, families worked together to provide sustainable communities. Not only is the land and water of Northern NM treasured by our families, but many of our cultural traditions are tied to our land, our water and our crops, defining who we are as northern New Mexicans.
During my career, I worked with the elected leaders to develop legislation that allows land grants and acequias to become their own independent political subdivisions. This paved the way for our land grants and acequias to access millions of dollars in public funding. Today, I work with the NM Acequia Commission and NM Acequia Association to develop strategies to strengthen and protect our acequias communities for generations to come.
I am committed to continuing to preserve the important role that acequias and land grants play in Northern New Mexico and will work to support our local agricultural economy while protecting our watershed and communities.
Women in New Mexico face many inequities that often prevent them from reaching their full potential. Equal pay is one of the most prevalent inequities, where women in New Mexico make 83 cents for every dollar a man earns, 28.4% of women work in low wage jobs and men are 2.6 times more likely to work in STEM jobs than women. As the father of two daughters, I care deeply about ensuring that our future generations of strong and powerful women have a level playing field. In Congress, I will fight for equal pay for women and support programs that increase education opportunities for women, provide incentives for them to enter STEM education programs. I will also work to ensure that women owned businesses continue to be provided with federal preferences in contracting.
Women should also have equal access to healthcare. I find it appalling that 14 percent of women in New Mexico lack health insurance. We can do better than this! In Congress, I will fight to ensure that coverage expansion includes women and reproductive care.
IMMIGRATION AND BORDER SECURITY
New Mexico is a melting pot of immigrants, cultures, languages and diverse communities. Immigrants, provide billions in tax revenues to New Mexico and the United States, and we must create a path to citizenship for immigrants and DREAMers that are seeking a better life for their families and protection from disaster and violence in their home country.
Comprehensive immigration reform is essential in securing our borders against traffickers and violent criminals, but needs to be fair and humane for families that are seeking a safer and better life for their families. I will support immigration reform for those without criminal records who are living, working, paying taxes and are contributing positively to our great country. By expanding work visas and skills-based immigration, we can support the American economy in agriculture, technology, and other sectors that benefit from hiring the best, brightest, and hardest working people from around the world
Our Federal agencies must have adequate resources, technology and personal needed to keep Americans safe to secure our borders and our ports of entry. We need a border that is both strong and vibrant, but we will NOT solve our immigration problem by “Building a Wall”. A border wall is fiscally irresponsible, will cost taxpayers billions of dollars, is impractical and makes no sense.
I will work across the aisle to find solutions to address our border crisis to enforce laws against criminals, while working with federal agencies to keep Americans safe. As Americans, we must be bold, innovative and compassionate as we re-establish our place as leaders on the world stage. We can and we must work together to find solutions on this important issue of immigration reform. We can be leaders and keep Americans safe, while creating a safe and prosperous America for all of our children and our communities.
We owe our veterans a debt beyond measure. Our men and women who served in past wars and conflicts that returned to become productive citizens deserve the opportunity to fulfill their dreams. We all know veterans within our families and circle of friends that have done well on their return to civilian life and many others who have had a more difficult path due to physical, emotional or mental health issues. Some have hidden these issues for years, rather than seeking help for fear of being seen in a bad light. We need to show our compassion to these veterans and offer our nation’s help. For those that have sought the help and received it in the form of medical and financial benefits, we must assure them that these benefits are there for them and their families or survivors for life. I have read that these benefits are being looked at as a pocket that can be picked to address our federal budget deficit. Our veterans and you have my pledge that as your Representative in Congress I will fight to protect these benefits and improve the services offered to our veterans.