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I recently saw slides from the 2021 NM Legislative Finance Committee, which was hosted at the Taos Ski Valley, and was frustrated, saddened and upset by what I read. The bar graphs for Economy & Finance indicated that in Taos County, only 9.4 percent of renters can afford a median-priced home. Moreover, only 57 percent of renters can afford the average rent. Median home prices sit above $300,000 in a community where the median household income is just shy of $40,000.

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The town and county of Taos received approximately $365,000 from the New Mexico Tourism Department (NMTD) to help the area bounce back from pandemic-slowed tourism.

The department took requests from applicants throughout the state, and chose to help those most affected economically by the pandemic as part of the New Mexico True campaign.

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COLUMN > A common thread throughout my previous DSA [Divided States of America] columns has been the differences in the approaches towards education in both a democracy and an autocracy. There is a distinct contrast between the two systems of education and, if one had to choose between them in describing the present educational system in America, it might be safe to say that America is leaning towards that of an autocracy.

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New Mexico schools will receive $979 million in federal aid to help them fully reopen in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The New Mexico Public Education Department will allocate 90 percent of the funding to individual school districts and state charter schools.

The remaining 10 percent will fund interventions to address learning loss, summer-enrichment and after-school programs, accelerated instruction, efforts to close the digital divide and support for disabled and at-risk students.

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How do you run a fire department without essential equipment like dedicated water tanks, fire trucks and PPE? This is a question that fire chiefs across New Mexico are asking themselves every day. And with the Fire Grant Fund, we thought we had an answer for them. When resources are limited, fire departments can usually request additional funding from the Fire Grant Fund. But in a year of unprecedented budget shortfalls, the Grant Fund was forced to reject appeals from many departments in need.

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House Bill 4 and the substitute bill filed on Feb. 5 is still a horrible bill and gives no insight, direction, or funding for any kind of effective reform to take place. I urge everyone to go to www.nmlegis.gov and read it for yourself.  I watched the news last Saturday morning as one supporter said “knowing they can be sued is an incentive for government employers to make changes”.

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New Mexico Environment Secretary James Kenney told state lawmakers his agency needs more staffing to inspect worker safety violations, ensure businesses are preventing the spread of the novel coronavirus and better protect the state's air and water quality.