SANTA FE, N.M. – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) addressed a Joint Session of the New Mexico State Legislature at the New Mexico State Capitol in Santa Fe. Senator Heinrich laid out his vision for maximizing this moment of unprecedented state budget revenues and federal investments to broaden New Mexico’s economic base and go “all in” to deliver on a brighter future for children across New Mexico.
During his remarks, Senator Heinrich highlighted the success around the early childhood constitutional amendment, House Joint Resolution 1, including his efforts at the federal level to secure authorization by the United States Congress.
“Because of the tenacity and dedication of this Legislature and the tremendous coalition of parents, educators and children’s advocates from all across New Mexico who went all in, we succeeded,” said Heinrich.
Senator Heinrich expressed that this an unprecedented moment of opportunity for lawmakers to support New Mexico’s children. “I want this rising generation of New Mexicans to receive an education that gives them a fair shot at the jobs of tomorrow. I want them to be excited about building a career and a family—right here in New Mexico,” said Heinrich.
Heinrich added, “To be all in, we have to recognize that it is only our courage – in this moment – that stands between impossible and possible.”
“We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift from surviving to thriving – as a state and as a community. We cannot let a scarcity mentality or incremental approach dictate our policy choices. We must be creative. We must be bold. We must be brave. We must be all in,” concluded Heinrich.
Senator Heinrich’s full remarks as prepared for delivery are below.
Before I begin, I wanted to take a moment to recognize and honor the life of longtime educator and New Mexico Representative J. Paul Taylor.
I will forever look up to J. Paul Taylor.
His leadership was inspiring.
His love of our state and its culture was unmatched.
And his legacy will live on in every corner of New Mexico.
Lieutenant Governor Howie Morales, Senator Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart, Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth, Speaker of the House Javier Martinez, and distinguished members of the New Mexico Legislature: It is an honor to address you here today.
And I am especially grateful that my wife, Julie, is here with me as well.
I want to start by thanking you for your partnership, collaboration, and leadership.
We have faced extraordinary challenges over the last few years.
And yet, we have accomplished so much together to directly improve New Mexico’s future.
From passing legislation to provide paid leave for all workers, to raising teachers’ wages, to taking on predatory lenders, to building a more equitable revenue base.
But no decision that has come out of this Legislature has been more consequential than last year’s passage of House Joint Resolution 1. And New Mexicans agreed.
A resounding 70% of New Mexicans voted in support of the early childhood constitutional amendment.
After more than 10 years of advocacy, approval from the Legislature, and approval by the voters, there was still one last hurdle: Authorization in the United States Congress.
It was an honor to lead that effort.
With the clock ticking at the very end of the last Congress, we had one shot to get this done… the Omnibus budget bill.
But we faced some pretty stubborn opposition.
So our Federal Delegation got to work.
With the support of the advocates here today, we literally spoke with every single member of Congress who would listen and more than a few who wouldn’t.
We insisted that Congress honor the will of New Mexican voters.
And yet, when a final agreement was reached on the Omnibus, our kids—our Congressional authorization—were still left out of that deal.
So we went all in.
We pled our case directly to national leadership.
And over opposition, we convinced them to believe in our kids, the same way that we do here.
Because no one leaves New Mexico’s kids behind on our watch.
Because of the tenacity and dedication of this Legislature and the tremendous coalition of parents, educators, and children’s advocates from all across our great state who went all in, we succeeded.
From the New Mexico Roundhouse to the United States Capitol, our North Star must be the future New Mexico that we are building for our children.
I want this rising generation of New Mexicans to receive an education that gives them a fair shot at the jobs of tomorrow.
I want them to be excited about building a career and a family…right here in New Mexico.
This is an unprecedented moment of opportunity for our state.
It is also an unprecedented moment of responsibility for all of us as elected leaders.
A moment where we must commit ourselves to being all in for our kids.
For our collective future.
To be all in, we have to recognize that it is only courage – in this moment – that stands between the impossible and the possible.
This is not a moment for half-measures or the way we have always done things.
We have a historic state budget surplus and billions of dollars of federal investments heading to our state from the Infrastructure Law, the CHIPS and Science Act, and the Inflation Reduction Act.
What you do with these resources during this legislative session will be measured over the lifetime of a child, not an election cycle.
That means investing this “one-time money” in things that will last.
Several of the bipartisan proposals before you right now meet this moment.
Like those to establish longer-term or even permanent funds to address critical conservation and water infrastructure and to invest in rural health care.
We also need to invest in staffing up all of our state agencies if we are going to take full advantage of the opportunities and funding before us.
From enforcing methane emission rules to delivering the $87 million allocated to New Mexicans for point-of-sale rebates on zero-emission home appliances, staffing levels at our state agencies should never be the limiting factor in delivering results for our constituents.
And we need to modernize the Legislature, to limit reliance on special interests and ensure all New Mexicans’ voices can be heard in our Roundhouse.
Going all in also means we must broaden our base—not just in the revenues that we are taking in, but also the economic engines that we grow, that we attract, and that we build in this state.
That requires going all in on our workforce.
We must address chronic staffing shortages in health care, in behavioral health, childcare, and education—and then go further.
To create economic stability and a bright future for our children, we need to uphold the dignity of work.
That’s equal pay, that’s paid family leave, that’s affordable health care and affordable childcare.
And it begins by raising our state’s minimum wage. In order to prepare New Mexicans for the good-paying jobs of tomorrow – whether at our national labs or at our community health care clinics – we must provide quality technical education and workforce training.
And we must work hand in glove with the Unions that train so many of New Mexico’s skilled workers.
We need to align our public schools, our community colleges, and our universities with growth industries like health care, biosciences, aerospace, and clean energy – where we are already seeing thousands of new jobs created since the Inflation Reduction Act became law in August.
Going all in requires that we do more than adapt – we need to prepare New Mexico to lead.
And that requires us to take on the challenges that have been written off for far too long as unsolvable.
Those challenges are the ones that need our leadership the most.
Last year, after the tragedies in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York, I sat down with a small bipartisan group of senators.
Nearly 30 years had passed since Congress had last taken any significant action on gun violence.
In that time, the political divide had only widened.
And very few outside of that room believed we could possibly find a deal.
But we did.
The resulting Bipartisan Safer Communities Act wasn’t perfect, and none of us thought it was.
But we knew that we had a choice. We could take the risk of accepting progress over perfection.
We could go all in, make the impossible possible, save lives – or not.
We went all in.
We did the hard thing.
And this legislative session, I am imploring all of you to do the same.
You have an abundance of local initiatives to turn to for ideas and solutions to our state’s most pressing challenges.
In the public safety space alone, I have been proud to send federal investments to several of these innovative programs:
A Rapid DNA machine for the Doña Ana County Sheriff’s Office
To expand the Gunshot Detection System for the Albuquerque Police Department
To finance trauma-informed first responders at the Albuquerque Community Safety Department and the Las Cruces Fire Department’s Project LIGHT.
But we need to take many of these ideas statewide and work together to develop more capacity in communities all across the state through a combination of local, state, and federal investments.
The Albuquerque Gateway Center is a good example of what shared investments from the city and state, and our congressional delegation can mean.
The Gateway Center will provide everything from emergency housing to sobering services and violence intervention.
If we can scale this type of lifesaving work all across our state, we can make sure that all New Mexicans who need help can actually get it.
New Mexico has all of the tools and all the resources—and the amazing families and communities—we need to deliver a brighter future for everyone.
If we commit to going all in and building a stronger foundation for our kids, we can build a New Mexico that they will be proud to call home.
A home where they can start their careers and raise their kids.
We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to shift from surviving to thriving – as a state and as a community.
We cannot let a scarcity mentality or incremental approach dictate our policy choices in this pivotal moment.
We must be creative.
We must be bold.
We must be brave.
We must be all in.