This is an excerpt of Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s second inaugural address.
We are, right now, a New Mexico that has become the first government in the world to make early childhood well-being and education a constitutional right. It is a generational achievement, one we will honor with further strategic investment in early childhood providers and educators, one that will convey to history that this group of New Mexicans, at this time, fought for and enfranchised tens of thousands of children and families, into the future, permanently.
We are, right now, a New Mexico that offers incredible economic opportunity to workers and students across diverse industries in every single community – with unemployment at its lowest point since before the Great Recession, with dozens more businesses starting up each year, and with job-creation numbers that would make any state in the country jealous.
We are, right now, a New Mexico that deploys the great wealth at our state’s disposal to meaningfully improve the lives of families and workers; that provides free child care and free college to all; that protects the rights and freedoms of every single person.
We have been, and we will continue to be, relentless. And we must, and we will, strive on to finish the work we are in.
In the coming years, with a new focus and funding to match, we will fight the scourge of homelessness that afflicts so many New Mexicans who are suffering. Building serious momentum on affordable housing can be a hallmark of the next four years, and I look forward to working hand-in-hand with the Legislature to achieve it.
We will approach opioid addiction as the epidemic it is, fighting tooth and nail to provide life-saving services to victims and families who have been torn apart by this horrific disease. We must approach the expansion of behavioral health care – including substance abuse treatment – as an urgent moral priority. Every New Mexican is entitled to achieve freedom from addiction and mental illness. And we should treat high-quality health care as a fundamental right. And that is why I am announcing today I will be asking the Legislature to create the New Mexico Health Care Authority, a comprehensive entity that will expand access to services and cut through the red tape that keeps too many New Mexicans from getting the affordable, high-quality care they need. This authority will streamline the government’s efforts to support families and their health care needs while more effectively holding insurers accountable.
And with all the power of the state, we will continue to fight to free families from the horrors of poverty. Across the country, New Mexico stands alone in improving rates of childhood poverty. Our programs and policies and investments across all of state government are, in fact, providing a deliverance from financial hardship and hunger for thousands in every corner of our state. The work is not done, but we have made a good start, and I will not rest until this is a state where the conditions that create generational poverty are a dusty relic of the distant past.
The free child care and universal high-quality pre-k that we have made reality will go a long way in accelerating that effort. We all know better outcomes begin at the earliest age. Healthy, happy families are the bedrock of our success as a statewide community. Our thriving Early Childhood Education and Care Department is the envy of the nation; if we stay the course, we will, in fact, make this generation of young school-age children into New Mexico’s greatest generation.
And New Mexico’s greatest generation of students will require the greatest generation of educators. Our state is rapidly building a reputation as a place where motivated, high-quality teachers want to be. And we all know reputations are earned, so that is why I am announcing today that I will ask the Legislature to increase our public school budget this year to cover all health care premium costs for all educators and school workers. In this administration, we don’t just pay lip service to supporting public school educators; we keep working to find new and meaningful ways to provide that support, because our communities depend on them, New Mexico families depend on them, and New Mexico children depend on them.
Meanwhile, no matter what threats arise in our country or in the world, we will continue to stand for freedom of choice, opportunity and safety. I vow today that we will codify Roe v. Wade as the law of the land within our borders. Never again, for all of time, will a woman in the state of New Mexico have anything less than full bodily autonomy and freedom of choice.
Our efforts to spread economic opportunity to every community, every tribal nation and every individual no matter their background will continue with renewed enthusiasm. As I mentioned, we are creating new jobs at a rate not seen in this state in many, many years; and we are poised to invest even further in the job training and workforce development programs that amplify the empowerment we have possible through universal free college and trade school. College enrollment in New Mexico increased this year for the first time in a decade; that’s only the beginning. This administration is foundationally committed to keeping our best and brightest right here in New Mexico, and to making sure that any individual, no matter their age, has the chance to grow and learn and become who they are meant to be.
And we will continue to fight the scourge of violent crime. Our state will be safer when we get more community-first police officers on our streets and get more violent offenders off them. We will continue to invest aggressively in the safety and well-being of our communities, and in the high-quality training of the officers who serve them, because New Mexicans expect and deserve to live their lives free from the fear of gun violence and violent crime.
Before I go, I want to thank my husband, my family, my friends and all of you here today for your tireless support. And I want to express my gratitude to all of the people of our great state for their faith in the program of positive change we have enacted. Women and young people, in particular, have seen and felt the tide of opportunity turning. It’s why they voted in record numbers to stay the course; it’s why New Mexicans voted to give this administration four more years to do the work of ensuring that the next fifty years are the greatest and most prosperous in New Mexico history.
Four years ago, we couldn’t have predicted the challenges we’d face. Standing here now, I am reluctant to issue declarations about what will come. But I am firm in my belief that we have both a clear moral vision and the tenacity to fight for every single improvement that will benefit workers and families. I have hope. I know you do too. We move forward into the unknown with malice toward none, with charity for all – and the conviction that hard work on behalf of New Mexicans will win the day.
As your governor, I am determined to continue to be compassionate and effective in equal measure. Together, we have demonstrated that we can, in fact, transform how we define and understand ourselves as a people, and as a state. We have created, through the work we’ve already done, a novel theory of hope and growth that can and will continue to unite us. And we can commit to one another that we will hold true to the cultural principles of honor, dignity and empathy that make us New Mexicans, that make New Mexico the most unique and beautiful multicultural community in the entire world.
It’s time, once again, to get back to work. Thank you, may God bless you, may God bless and keep your families, and may God bless our beautiful state. Viva New Mexico!