Emotions ran high on opening day of the 2011 legislature, with a new Governor delivering a state-of-the-state address that proposed continued cuts in state programs, rejection of any tax increases, a repeal of the death penalty ban, more DNA testing and a rollback of credits to the film industry. It was hard not to see the address as a line drawn in the sand rather than a call for bipartisan cooperation with the Democratically controlled legislature. But of course, elections do have consequences.
A record response to my constituent survey will help me make some hard choices at a time when the state’s revenue falls about $400 million short of what’s necessary to balance the state budget. In the past few weeks, over 800 responses have come pouring in, over the Internet as well as through the mail. You can still respond, here.
Thanks again for your input. It’s important to me! I’ll be chairing the Public Affairs Committee again where many of the health, pension and restructuring bills will be heard. Contact me while I’m in Santa Fe at 1-505-986-4482, e-mail me at email@example.com or drop by my office in Room 300. Information on bills, schedules and committees is available at www.nmlegis.gov. Senate floor sessions are now broadcast there as well. I’ll be sending out periodic e-newsletters and encourage you to sign up if you're not on the list.
Here's the news release that I sent out when a team of great volunteers finished compiling most of the returns(no small task).
Constituents to Feldman: Don’t Cut Medicaid and Education Further; Close Tax Loopholes and Review Rates
Sen. Dede Feldman (D-Bernalillo) today released the results of her annual constituent survey, which was sent in late December to 6,500 of her voting constituents. Also, for the second time, the survey was sent via e-mail to an additional 1000 constituents. Feldman represents District 13, which covers the North Valley of Albuquerque from Old Town to Los Ranchos, parts of the West Side and near-Heights.
As of Sunday Jan. 16th, 462 constituents responded to the hard copy survey and 328 responded on line for a total of 790 responses. Results are still coming in.
“This is not a scientific survey,” says Feldman, “ but it gives me a good idea of what people are thinking and it gives them a good picture of the hard choices that we are facing this session.”
“This is the biggest response I’ve had in a long time.” she added
Facing a budget shortfall for the third time in three years, constituents were asked whether to continue cutting programs or consider tax increases. 78% favored maintaining current benefits and eligibility for Medicaid and 56% did not want to cut education further. However, 94% want to review tax incentives to see whether they are working to create jobs and economic activity, and 94% want to close tax loopholes like the “combined reporting” provisions which allow out-of-state corporations to avoid full state taxes.
Asked about specific cuts on the table at the upcoming session, 97% wanted to reduce the number of governor-appointed state employees, 73% wanted to eliminate funding for the spaceport and 74% wanted to close selected higher educational institutions and branch colleges. On the other hand, constituents did not want to shorten the school year (82% said no), enlarge class sizes (72% said no) or raise tuition at colleges and universities (62% said no). 79.5% did not want to eliminate the Rail Runner.
On other tax matters, 88% said they wanted to increase taxes on smokeless tobacco products, 85% wanted to increase alcohol taxes, 77% wanted taxes on soda and soft drinks and 80% said they wanted to eliminate the 2003 income tax cuts for top earners. 53% favored a reduction in tax credits for the film industry.
Among other results:
•56.7% do not want the state to borrow against our permanent funds
•52.4% favor repeal of drivers’ licenses for undocumented residents
•61% support a constitutional amendment that would abolish the PRC and replace
it with another entity that 43% say should be a combination of appointed and elected
•58% feel environmental regulations on oil, gas and mining are too lax
•77% believe that charter school offer a needed alternative to public school
•82% want them evaluated for effectiveness
•53% favor a moratorium on the construction of charters
•92% want to limit charter school principals’ salaries
•64% want to eliminate less popular academic programs at universities
•62% support continued increased contributions from teachers and staff for benefits
•49.9% want a temporary elimination of college athletics
•49% favor hiring freezes
Regarding Health Care
•90% favor taking advantage of grants through the federal health care bill
•84% a state-run health insurance exchange
•93% want a more stringent process for reviewing health insurance rate increases
•91% want strict enforcement of new federal insurance requirements on preexisting conditions and coverage limitations
•63% support a mandate that everyone carry health insurance
•52% support a Medicare-for-All approach
•83 % favor a program to allow donation of unused prescription drugs
Let the Games Begin! Sen.Feldman signs in for the session, with Senate Chief Clerk (and Wonder Woman) Lenore Naranjo.