We are happy to report that an appropriation of $200,000 is in the budget bill that was sent by the Legislature to the Governor, thanks to the efforts of Representative Sharon Clahchischilliage, Senator Howie Morales, and House Speaker Don Tripp. We are extremely grateful to these and other legislative allies of the health councils. We are also grateful to all those health council members who have worked so hard on this process and made key contributions along the way.
The next step is the review of the budget by the Governor and her staff, with the possibility of exercising her pocket veto power over individual items in the budget. We are asking everyone--health council coordinators and members, and others who are familiar with the important work of the health councils--to contact Governor Martinez to ask her to approve this particular appropriation (i.e., to not veto it), which says:
"Two hundred thousand dollars ($200,000) for county and tribal councils to identify local community health needs."
The exact wording in the original legislation was "to identify and address local community health needs." In your communications to the Governor, it is probably worth mentioning that health councils not only identify local health needs; they also develop community action plans and actions to address those needs. This funding, like previous appropriations, will be administered by the Department of Health, and will be added to the current recurring budget item of $195,000, which has translated into $5,000/health council.
I have attached sample of a letter that might be used. However, this is only a suggestion; it is important to make it local: to state in your own words what your health council has been able to do in your community, and how much more it will be able to do with additional funding. You can emphasize that health councils have demonstrated their ability to bring people together to improve the health of everyone, including children, families, and seniors. They have local support, and they bring in additional resources to communities to create healthier communities.
Governor Susana Martinez
Office of the Governor
490 Old Santa Fe Trail, #400
Santa Fe, NM 87501
Telephone calls:(505) 476-2200
e-mail messages: fill out the Contact Form at: http://www.governor.state.nm.us/Contact_the_Governor.aspx.
Contacts to the Governor should be made as soon as possible.
Thank you all for your amazing work, and thank you for helping in this collaborative effort to restore partial State funding to the health councils.