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The Public’s Money, Native Mental Health and Rio Grande Monitoring Cuts

This week on New Mexico in Focus, The Line opinion panel looks at recent outcomes for big ticket taxpayer items. This past weekend saw the long-awaited first successful suborbital flight by Virgin Galactic. Launched from New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the flight brings the promise of space tourism one step closer. It’s a more than $200 million gamble made by then-Gov. Bill Richardson years ago.  

Businesses have paid millions into the state’s unemployment insurance fund, which was completely depleted during the pandemic. Now, a legislative report says the state’s Workforce Solutions Department overpaid up to $250 million dollars in unemployment benefits. Even if it’s a much lower number floated by the administration – around $105 million – it’s a stunning amount. The Line debates the problem and the governor’s reaction. 
The group also discusses a new report that suggests New Mexico is asking oil and gas producers for far too little when it comes to securing money needed to clean up abandoned wells and their infrastructure. 
Antonia Gonzales gathers a group of experts to talk about bringing tribal communities out of the pandemic with the right kind of behavioral health support. It’s a problem for all communities in the state, but one that the Indian Affairs Department has been working on since the onset of COVID-19. 
Environment reporter Laura Paskus speaks with the director of the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, which has seen its funding slashed as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which funds the program, fights its own budget battle. The innovative project serves the dual purpose of providing an outdoor classroom for students while also collecting valuable data on the health of the Rio Grande and its ecosystem. 

Host: Gene Grant

The Line Opinion Panel:
Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group public relations 
Serge Martinez, UNM School of Law professor 
H. Diane Snyder, former state senator

Mental Health Awareness in Tribal Communities 
Correspondent: Antonia Gonzales 
Eldred Lesansee, NM Indian Affairs Department 
Alysia Coriz, Indigenous Youth Council member   
Teresa Gomez, Honoring Native Life 

Bosque Science and Data Program Faces Cuts 
Correspondent: Laura Paskus 
Guests: Greg Dyson, Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program