KUNM

Headlines: Gubernatorial Candidate Forum, Health Exchange Premiums, San Juan County Tax Hike...

Sep 23, 2014

Gubernatorial Candidates Face Off At ForumThe Associated Press

Republican incumbent Susana Martinez and Democratic challenger Gary King disagreed over the economy and schools in their first appearance together at a candidate forum in New Mexico's race for governor.

King criticized Martinez for presiding over the "worst economy in the country," and said New Mexico has lagged behind other states in job growth.

Martinez jabbed at King for supporting tax increases to balance the budget two decades when he served in the Legislature.

To improve education, King said the state should tap into a permanent fund to expand early childhood education programs.

Martinez reiterated her support for legislation to hold back third graders, rather than promoting them to the next class, if they can't read proficiently.

Martinez and King faced off Monday during a forum sponsored by business groups.

New Mexico Says Health Exchange Premiums To Drop - The Associated Press & The Albuquerque Journal

Many New Mexico residents getting health coverage through the state health insurance exchange will generally see slightly lower premiums in 2015.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the state Office of the Superintendent of Insurance says premiums will go down for three of the five insurers.

According to the office, premiums for a 50-year-old non-smoking Albuquerque-area resident will drop on average by 7 percent at Molina Healthcare, 1.5 percent at New Mexico Health Connections and 1 percent at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico.

Presbyterian Health Plan's premiums aren't changing.

A fifth participating insurer, Christus Health Plan, is in its first year.

Gun Stolen From New Mexico Officer's Vehicle Found - The Associated Press & The Santa Fe New Mexican

Santa Fe County authorities have recovered a gun and a bulletproof vest but not a badge and some other gear belonging to a state Corrections Department officer whose vehicle was burgled earlier this month.

The Santa Fe New Mexican reports that three people have been arrested in connection with the theft but that the Sheriff's Office is looking for a fourth person.

A corrections officer's duty bag was stolen on Sept. 8.

It contained a .40-caliber handgun, a bulletproof vest, a law enforcement badge, a stun gun, a duty belt, a baton and a set of handcuffs.

The gun was found in a trash can in a park after it was sold following the theft.

San Juan County Hikes Raises Tax To Close Deficit - The Associated Press and Daily Times

San Juan County is temporarily increasing its gross receipts tax to cover a $6 million shortfall in a program that helps pay for uninsured health care.

The Daily Times reports that the two increases approved Monday by the county commissioners means shoppers will pay nearly 4 cents more for every $20 of spending.

Commission Chairman Jack Fortner says he didn't like the increases but that the county can't lose hundreds of jobs and health care services that otherwise could be eliminated.

One of the taxes is set to expire at the end of 2016 and the other at the end of 2017.

Trial Of Sheriff Accused Of 'Road Rage' Continues - The Associated Press

A motorist says he thought a northern New Mexico sheriff was going to execute him during a heated traffic stop.

Michael Tafoya told jurors Monday he begged for his life as Rio Arriba County Thomas Rodella pulled a gun on him following a road rage chase in March.

Rodella is standing trial of federal charges of deprivation of rights and brandishing a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty.

Authorities say Rodella was in plainclothes when he pulled over Tafoya, jumped out of his personal SUV with a gun, and shoved his badge in Tafoya's face.

Defense attorney say Rodella did not injure Tafoya and simply wanted to stop him from driving recklessly.

The 26-year-old Tafoya is scheduled on Tuesday to face cross examination.

Testing Of New Mexico Babies Exposed To TB Begins - The Associated Press

State health officials have launched its first screening of babies possibly exposed to tuberculosis at an El Paso hospital.

The New Mexico Department of Health said Monday the screenings will continue with the first of two special clinics hosted by the state.

Officials say 50 babies from New Mexico may have been exposed to tuberculosis because of an infected employee who worked in the postpartum and newborn nursery area of Providence Memorial Hospital in El Paso. Letters have been sent to the families, and they're being invited to screening clinics.

The children were potentially exposed at a nursery in the Providence Memorial Hospital of El Paso between September 2013 and last month. The health care worker tested positive for tuberculosis late last month.

Oil Lease Sales On State Land Generate $7 Million - The Associated Press

The state Land Office says it received $7.3 million from the most recent sale of oil and gas leases.

The agency said Monday the revenue is the highest from leases since getting $7.8 million in December 2013.

Leases were sold last week for oil and gas development on three dozen tracts of state land in Lea, Eddy, Chaves and Roosevelt counties. The highest bid was nearly $1.8 million for a 320-acre parcel in Lea County.

The Land Office said it's collected more than $246 million from oil and gas lease sales since 2011.

The agency received more than $726 million last year from royalties from oil and gas production.

The revenue goes to support state institutions, including public schools and universities.

Another County Wants Advisory Ballot Questions - The Associated Press

Secretary of State Dianna Duran says another county is proposing nonbinding ballot questions to poll its voters in the November general election.

Duran said Monday that Chaves County has approved five advisory questions, including ones to ask the county's voters whether they would support local ordinances to require voter identification, ban the release of wolves in the county and repeal a prevailing wage that must be paid by contractors on certain taxpayer-financed construction projects.

The county also wants to poll its voters about a possible right-to-work measure.

Duran said she has asked her attorney to review the measures in light of a state Supreme Court ruling last week that required her office to place advisory questions on the ballot proposed by Santa Fe and Bernalillo counties.

UNM Alum, Essence Mag Founder To Visit Old School - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

The founder of Essence and Latina magazines is scheduled to attend homecoming events at the University of New Mexico — his alma mater.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that Ed Lewis is slated to speak Wednesday at The Pit and sign copies of his book, "The Man from Essence." The 74-year-old entrepreneur also is scheduled to take part in the "All Alumni Open House" on Thursday.

Lewis graduated from UNM in 1964 and was only one of five black students when he came to campus.

He arrived to UNM on a football scholarship but was cut from the team after his freshman year.

A 2005 book on leadership suggested that Lewis was cut because he wore dashikis and supported Malcolm X.

New Mexico Says Health Exchange Premiums To Drop - The Associated Press and Albuquerque Journal

Many New Mexico residents getting health coverage through the state health insurance exchange will generally see slightly lower premiums in 2015.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that the state Office of the Superintendent of Insurance says premiums will go down for three of the five insurers.

According to the office, premiums for a 50-year-old non-smoking Albuquerque-area resident will drop on average by 7 percent at Molina Healthcare, 1.5 percent at New Mexico Health Connections and 1 percent at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico.

Presbyterian Health Plan's premiums aren't changing.

A fifth participating insurer, Christus Health Plan, is in its first year.

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