Please read these questions and let us know what your organization and others in the the Land of Enchantment are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need.
Virtually all states have budget deficits and extensive financial problems this year and beyond. The states are also the custodians and administrators of multi billions of dollars of federal assistance programs. State policies related to hunger and poverty contain a great deal of state money that is in short supply right now but much more federal money that can grow as the use of the programs grows.
These state policy questions are meant to begin a conversation about how states can deliver more services to their citizens who are facing extreme long term unemployment, hunger, home foreclosures and loss of health insurance and pensions.
Please read them and let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction that helps those in need, especially the poorest of the poor, the millions of new poor, seniors, returning vets, children and the homeless.
Our intention is to create a place on our website that will highlight policy actions that state based organizations are taking and how they are proceeding. We also hope to host a WhyHunger State Policy Award for the best state policies in the U.S.A.
1) New Mexico ranks in the top six states for percentage of population in poverty. It has the 4th highest percentage of children living in poverty and the 5th highest percentage of seniors living in poverty. In addition more than a third of jobs in the state pay below the poverty level. Is there any effort being made to increase the minimum wage and promote a living wage in your state?
2) New Mexico does not have a Shared Work Program. Why not? Is there any effort to bring one to the state?
3) New Mexico has some of the highest rates of food insecurity and poverty in the country yet WIC benefits are below the national average. Is there any effort being made to increase the amount recipients receive?
4) The benefit amount for the Seniors Farmer’s Market Nutrition Program is below the national average. Is there any movement to increase the benefits of this program?
5) New Mexico ranks 5th out of all the states for its population living without insurance. Extremely high numbers of adults and children are uninsured. What efforts are being made to increase insurance coverage? Who is involved?
6) Only 17% of families living below the federal poverty line receive TANF. This is below the national average of 21%. Given the need in New Mexico, why is the percentage of those receiving TANF so low? What is being done to increase participation?
7) New Mexico has a 5% tax on non-prescription drugs. Many states are exempt from this tax. Is anything being done to remove the tax on non-prescription drugs?
8) While the lowest 20% of income earners are paying over 10% of their income in taxes, the highest 1% of income earners only pay 4.5% of their income in taxes. Can anything be done to alleviate the burden of taxes on low-income individuals?
9) Although there is a state Pre-K, only 13% of 4 year olds are enrolled. This is below the national average of 23%. Is there currently any effort to increase enrollment into state Pre-K?
10) New Mexico’s High School completion rate (65%) is 20% lower than the national average. What is being done to insure that more children stay in school and earn their diplomas? Have any of these efforts been successful?
11) In the state of New Mexico only 35% of the 232,000 people served by food banks are also receiving SNAP benefits. Do you know of any effort to increase outreach for the program among this group?
12) New Mexico has the second highest children’s summer food program participation in the nation and the highest participation of students in both the School Lunch and School Breakfast Program. Are there any special features of the program in your state that contribute to this achievement?
13) What other statewide policies or programs are you aware of that are helping to fight hunger and poverty, or are there any that are responsible for increasing it?
Please let us know what your organization and others in your state are doing to move legislation and policy in a direction to address these questions by contacting Executive Director and Co-Founder Bill Ayres at [email protected].
Feel free to inform us of any mistakes we may have made in any of these questions. Also we would appreciate any comments on policies or statistics that might have been overlooked.