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How Big is Small in NM?

December 27, 2011

SANTA FE, N.M. - New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez has made boosting opportunities for small businesses in the state a priority, but several groups dealing with environmental and health care issues say those efforts are falling short.

One of the groups crying "foul" over the small business initiatives is Food and Water Watch. State organizer Eleanor Bravo says one of Martinez's early actions upon taking office was to form the "Small Business Friendly Task Force." Bravo says small is not what this task force is about.

"Well, it is neither small, nor business-friendly. It is made up of big lobbyist corporations."

Bravo says Martinez has been the target of numerous complaints that campaign contributors were recipients of special treatment resulting in regulation relief that led to the dismantling of rules already in place and to questionable lease awards.

The governor says she simply is trying to "create an environment where small businesses and entrepreneurs can thrive and hire workers." She added that "requires New Mexico to be competitive with other states so that New Mexico businesses do not flee elsewhere."

Barbara Webber, executive director of Health Action New Mexico, says big business is also calling the shots on health care reform. She points to the governor calling for a Medicaid redesign for New Mexico without involving the legislature, and sweeping health insurance changes, as prime examples.

"Transparency that she campaigned on has not always been in force. There may be an agenda and we don't know what that agenda is for sure."

Webber says the Martinez administration appears to be leaning toward big business in its dealings concerning the Health Insurance Exchange - so suspected because the industry-member group, Health Insurance Alliance, has been appointed to the exchange's board of directors. The Alliance has representatives from Lovelace, Presbyterian, Blue Cross-Blue Shield and United Health Care on its board, all large organizations.

Beth Blakeman, Public News Service - NM