I want to offer my congratulations to governor-elect Susana Martinez. As she will soon find out, being governor of New Mexico is one of the most demanding jobs anyone can have. But it is, by far, the most rewarding job for anyone wanting to serve the people of this great state.
Eight years ago, I was elected to succeed Gov. Gary Johnson. While Johnson and I had our differences, he followed through with his pledge to work with me during my busy and aggressive transition into office. I am offering the same assistance to t Martinez to ensure a successful transition that allows her to hit the ground running on Jan. 1.
Despite the heated rhetoric during the recent gubernatorial campaign, New Mexico is in a great position to take advantage of a rebounding national economy. Long before the national economy imploded, we created more than 80,000 new jobs in New Mexico and cut more than $1 billion in taxes — more than any other governor in the history of the state. We established a business-friendly climate that continues to attract high-wage jobs, particularly in the emerging clean-energy industry that we’ve built during the past eight years.
No doubt, many New Mexicans are hurting as a result of the recession. But we took immediate, fiscally responsible action more than two years ago that has enabled state government to weather the storm and continue to invest in quality teachers and provide critical services to our most vulnerable citizens.
I promised when I first ran for governor to invest in people. I am proud of the $1 billion we invested in our classrooms, including professional teacher salaries, access to pre-kindergarten and modern school buildings. I am also proud of the bold, $1.6 billion we’ve invested in safer, modern highways and the Rail Runner Express, which is an example of building infrastructure while protecting the environment.
We also took a fledgling film program and built it into a competitive, private-sector industry that resulted in nearly 150 major projections, thousand of jobs and more than $3.5 billion in economic impact.
We balanced the budget every year of my administration. When we generated extra revenue, we always had a healthy 10-percent reserve account, while cutting taxes, like the food tax, that hurt working New Mexico families.
When the worldwide economy crashed, forcing deep cuts to our tax revenue, we acted aggressively to cut state spending by more than $600 million. We made budget sacrifices in ways that protected classroom spending and health care for vulnerable New Mexicans.
With help from former Gov. Toney Anaya, we have taken advantage of federal stimulus money to create jobs across New Mexico, while avoiding costly cuts in education and Medicaid spending.
Like governors across the country, Martinez will face challenges as the worldwide and national economies continue to turn around. The responsibility is daunting. But New Mexico families expect leadership to continue uninterrupted. I look forward to a seamless transition that is in the best interest of the state.