New Mexico First, a public policy organization established in 1986, offers unique town halls and forums that create concrete, actionable recommendations for policymakers and the public. NM First also produce a wide range of policy reports on issues such as water, education, healthcare, the economy, and energy. Most recently, in conjunction with the State Centennial and an advisory committee that included New Mexico Community Foundation’s President and CEO, Jenny Parks, NM First released a report that reflects 25 years of closely examined town hall recommendations, and thus the best ideas of thousands of New Mexicans.

This report is designed to broaden the understanding of citizens and lawmakers about the issues facing New Mexico. It will also help participants prepare for New Mexico First’s 2012 Centennial Town Hall (March 22-23 in Albuquerque). Rather than offering a great deal of detail on one specific area, the report provides a “30,000 foot level” overview of several issues facing the state as whole: specifically health, economy, education and energy.

Read the report for yourself at New Mexico Progress Report, 2012 Edition.

Some findings:

  • Average reading scores for New Mexico’s fourthgraders are significantly below the nation’s, but they haven’t gotten any worse since 1992. However, five states that ranked as poorly as New Mexico in 1992 have improved a great deal while we have stagnated.
  • Fourth-graders’ math proficiency is much improved since 1992, though it is still below the national average.
  • New Mexico is among the three worst states when it comes to getting college students through school and graduated within six years.
  • Our poverty rates keep getting worse. Median household income has improved since 2000, but it is still below both the national level and those of the other Four Corners states.
  • New Mexico is providing much more prenatal care than it did in 2008 and it is doing better at attracting health care professionals to practice here. However, measures of child well-being, insurance coverage and hunger are all degrading.
  • Renewable energy use is increasing in New Mexico. Overall energy production from all sources is little changed since 2003.
  • On the theory that past crowds’ wisdom should not be lost, the report includes a number of recommendations made by previous town halls.
  • School students need more than education, they need help growing up. Past town halls called for programs to help kids deal with pregnancy, drugs, alcohol and crime. Parents have to take responsibility for their kids’ behavior and performance. A comprehensive system of education, from prekindergarten through higher education, is needed.
  • Our tax code should provide incentives to grow businesses in New Mexico and remove disincentives to their growth. Regulations need to be clear, fair, simple, consistent and affordable. Transportation, power and other infrastructure must be adequate.
  • Preventable chronic diseases should receive early treatment. Databases of health care professionals and sources of funding should be developed. New Mexico should invest in initiatives to prevent substance abuse, teen pregnancy, suicide and family violence.
  • New Mexico needs a robust system of energy transmission and storage. Programs are needed to improve conservation and energy efficiency. We need more research into conventional and renewable energy.

Visit New Mexico First’s website for more information about their work and upcoming 2012 Centennial Town Hall on March 22-23.

Click here to Give Now to the New Mexico First Endowment Fund.