‘IF WE DECIDE WE WANT IT, WE CAN DO IT’: Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham Touts New Mexico’s Progress – and Potential

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham speaks at the GACC luncheon.

Last week, the Chamber hosted New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for her annual post-legislative address, to share with the Albuquerque business community what the state Legislature accomplished during the session – and what work lies ahead.

 

After some brief opening comments from Chamber President and CEO Terri Cole, Board Chair Bruce Stidworthy introduced two of the Chamber’s newest investors, CVS Health and the New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Value.

CVS Health is a familiar name to many – CVS is working in communities across the country to redefine health care by engaging consumers in new ways, and providing access to high-quality, affordable care when and how they choose. CVS representative Rikki-Lee Chavez spoke to the audience to share CVS’ commitment to the Albuquerque community.

The New Mexico Coalition for Healthcare Value is a member coalition that offers employer education on emerging trends in health care and workplace well-being. Ultimately, their goal is to help business leaders enhance benefits and well-being for their employees – which impacts recruitment, retention and the overall prosperity of our community. Brandon Writtenberry spoke on behalf of the coalition to introduce their work to the audience.

Then, following an introduction by Stidworthy, the governor took the stage.

She started off by emphasizing New Mexico’s potential: “There’s no dearth of good ideas and ingenuity,” Lujan Grisham said. Meanwhile, New Mexico is number one in the nation for wage growth, manufacturing and jobs per capita, she said – thanks to efforts to create an environment where this prosperity is possible.

Meanwhile, new investments in permanent funds, like the Land of Enchantment Fund, will secure New Mexico’s future and help it meet its climate goals. The fund’s $350 million will not only enable critical land and water conservation for years to come, but it will serve as a model for other states as well, she predicted. Lujan Grisham also touted this year’s tax package’s incentives for electric vehicles, solar power and EV charging stations.

And manufacturing tax credits will build on federal incentives to help New Mexico do its part in national reshoring efforts, bringing cutting-edge technology manufacturing to our state. Maxeon Solar Technologies made big waves last fall when it announced its coming facility in Albuquerque, which will enable the vast majority of its manufacturing to occur here. “Why wouldn’t New Mexico be the most competitive state, given the fact that we’ve got the kind of resources that allow us to do [it]?” she said.

In education, Lujan Grisham emphasized more instructional time, especially in the form of more school days, as an important lever for improving student proficiency. She praised Albuquerque Public Schools’ newly released 2024-2025 calendar, which shows the district is “embracing” a full 180 days of instruction. This increased learning time and the Legislature’s investment in a state literacy institute – which will place special emphasis on reading skills and support educators in teaching the science of reading – will boost our kids’ reading proficiency, as will additional funds for high-dosage tutoring for 10,000 kids this summer.

Lujan Grisham also highlighted her continued focus on making progress toward universal access to childcare, highlighting it as a key to economic prosperity for New Mexico. Universal childcare and the Opportunity Scholarship are game-changers for residents and the top reasons companies relocate to New Mexico, she said.

Turning her attention to attention to housing, the governor praised the Legislature’s efforts to address statewide needs in a short session. While these efforts won’t get New Mexico the 30,000 housing units it needs right now, they established an important system for reaching that goal through future investments. Infrastructure received legislative attention this year, but roads will require an even more “robust” package next session. “We spent $1 billion on infrastructure – frankly, we could spend a trillion,” she told the audience.

But Lujan Grisham was critical of the Legislature’s work on public safety, especially around competency for people with mental illness. Will there be a special session dedicated to public safety, as she suggested in the days after the Legislature adjourned? The governor said, “You’ll know when I know.”

She praised Bernalillo County Sheriff John Allen and Albuquerque Police Chief Harold Medina for working together with New Mexico State Police, but she added, “They will tell you unequivocally that they want to do more.” So does the Chamber – we were vocal proponents of a number of crime bills that were messaged by the Governor but never received enough attention at the Legislature. Whether our next chance comes up next January or sometime sooner, we’ll be there again to advocate for policies that change pre-trial detention to stop the revolving door, crack down on violent crime, and support officer recruitment and retention efforts.

Thanks to everyone who joined us at our biggest event of the program year! We’d like to thank Gov. Lujan Grisham for taking the time to join us to share her insights as well as her hard-working team for their support. And, big thanks to the Pueblo of Sandia and Governor Felix Chaves for such a beautiful space to hold our event, and for Sandia Golf Club’s outstanding staff.

We hope you’ll join us at our next signature event – keep an eye on your inbox for more Chamber event news!

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