Lawsuit Filed Against State Over School Funding
The Cuba, Gallup, Lake Arthur, Moriarty/Edgewood, Rio Rancho and Santa Fe school districts along with a number of families are suing the state for not providing enough funding to its public schools. The lawsuit claims that students who are low-income, Native Americans or English Language Learners are disproportionately and negatively affected by financial cuts made to their budgets and the state is therefore in violation of the state constitution, which requires funding that is “sufficient.” In an emailed statement to the Albuquerque Journal, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Public Education Department called the lawsuit’s claims “flat-out wrong,” stating that PED was spending “more on education than ever before.”
Pedestrian Deaths Rose Nationally and Locally in 2016
According to statistics kept by the New Mexico Department of Transportation and the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 34 pedestrians were killed in 2016 after being run over or hit by cars in Albuquerque and Bernalillo County. That number breaks the former record of 29 pedestrian deaths in the same area in 2014, the same year that New Mexico was rated the worst in the nation for pedestrian fatalities, according to a report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration last year. Nationwide, pedestrian fatalities increased 11 percent—to nearly 6,000 deaths—in 2016, according to a report by the Governors Highway Safety Association. The cause for the national increase is unknown, though experts have suggested the rising number of cars on the road and distractions caused by cell phones as contributing factors. Local activists site alcohol abuse, poorly designed infrastructure and speeding as some of the causes for Bernalillo County's high rate.
Third Gubernatorial Candidate Announced
Peter DeBenedittis, an alcohol-prevention teacher from Santa Fe, officially announced his run for governor of New Mexico last week, making him the third Democratic candidate to join the race. He says his campaign will focus on issues concerning early childhood education, providing universal access to health care and increasing taxes on alcohol and cigarettes. He has also characterized himself as a political outsider, naming his campaign “People First” to distinguish it from other candidates who he says are driven by the desires of special interest groups and corporations instead of their constituents. DeBenedittis notably advocated for a liquor tax increase to help with state revenues last year on behalf of Alcohol Taxes Save Lives & Money. Two other Democrats have already announced their candidacy—US Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham and former television executive Jeff Apodaca. No GOP candidates have officially entered the gubernatorial election, which happens Nov. 6, 2018 . Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, has reached the end of her term limit and will be unable to run next year.