Governor candidates push dueling New Mexico economic plans
By RUSSELL CONTRERAS
Jul. 30, 2018
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The contenders for New Mexico governor are pushing dueling plans aimed at tackling poverty in one of the nation's poorest states and transforming a struggling economy tied to the boom-and-bust oil and gas industry.
Rep. Steve Pearce, the Republican candidate for governor, told business leaders Monday that he would seek to expand the state's greenhouses, look to new mining ventures and push growth in artificial intelligence businesses.
He also vowed to do more to take advantage of Spaceport America and make Roswell a destination for painting large aircraft.
Growing these sectors will improve the chances for startups to succeed in urban areas and create jobs in struggling rural communities for people "who want to work with their hands," Pearce said.
"We must be looking at a critical mass ... this ability to create an inferno of talent," the Hobbs Republican said.
Rep. Michelle Lujan Grisham, the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, last week released her "seven-point plan" aimed at addressing poverty by raising wages and adding more regulation against payday lenders.
"My plan will raise the minimum wage, protect families from predatory lenders and renew the fight against hunger, because our state is only strong if our families are succeeding instead of living paycheck to paycheck," Lujan Grisham said.
The Albuquerque Democrat's plan includes raising the minimum wage from $7.50 to $10 per hour statewide, expanding child savings accounts and dedicating more resources to fighting hunger.
Lujan Grisham also is an outspoken advocate for expanding preschool programs — something liberal Democrats in the Legislature have been pushing to address poverty.
An annual report in June showed that New Mexico fell to last place in child well-being as the number of kids in the state living in poverty and without health insurance increased.
The Kids Count analysis also found that 30 percent of New Mexico children were living at or below the federal poverty level in 2016.
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