According to “Building a Grad Nation,” a new report released by Civic Enterprises and the Everyone Graduates Center at the Johns Hopkins University, New Mexico has the lowest high school graduation rate in the nation. The study, which used data from 2015, found that only 69 percent of the state's high school students graduate, despite the national graduation rate being at an all-time high of 83.2 percent. Part of the problem, the report claims, is the lack of support systems for low-income students. The study points out that other states with both higher and lower percentages of low-income students performed higher, meaning a high poverty rate doesn't inevitably lead to a low performance. Albuquerque Public Schools' graduation rate was 62 percent, one of the lowest in the report's list of the 100 largest school districts. No other state's graduation rate was below 70 percent in 2015.
Democratic Nominees For Governor Preparing For Race
This week, Jeff Apodaca, a former media executive for CBS and Univision, announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for New Mexico governor, joining US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who announced her candidacy last December. Apodaca, the son of former New Mexico Gov. Jerry Apodaca, a Democrat who served from 1975-1979, says he wants to focus on the state's low poverty rate and expand on school programs. Rep. Grisham reported in April that she had raised over $892,000 in cash donations supporting her campaign. She blamed the state's leadership for the low employment rate and poorly performing public schools. There have been no official declarations of candidacy from any GOP members so far. Incumbent Republican Governor Susana Martinez will not be eligible to run for re-election because her term limit has reached its end. The state gubernatorial elections will happen Nov. 6, 2018.
PNM Lowers Proposed Rate Increase
Public Service Co. of New Mexico filed a case in December with state regulators requesting an annual increase in overall rates of $99.2 million. In that proposal, residential and small-business consumers would have suffered higher percentage hikes than large industrial consumers incrementally over two years. Nearly half the increase was planned to go toward costs associated with a settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency and several other parties. Under the terms of the proposed rate settlement agreement, the average rate increase for PNM customers over the next two years would have been 14.3 percent. Last week, PNM announced it had reached a new agreement that would decrease that number to 9 percent—or $62.3 million. Residential customers will pay 3.9 percent more on their total bill in 2018, and an additional 3.4 percent in 2019 if the Public Regulation Commission approves the new agreement. Of the parties participating in the case, PNM and eight others have signed the settlement, including the attorney general, PRC utility staff and four environmental and consumer advocacy groups.