On the Table

Workforce Department Gets $1M Increase

The Workforce Solutions Department will use a $1.1 million budget increase from federal stimulus funds to staff the call center, reduce wait time and reduce the backlog of appeals and adjudications.

NM Last in Job Growth

New Mexico ranked 51st in the country for nonfarm employment growth between April 2010 and April 2011, the Workforce Solutions Department reports. Nonfarm employment dropped 0.3 percent with the greatest losses in construction, information and personal and business services.

SIC Adopts Business Investment Reforms

The State Investment Council is recommending the Legislature amend the state law to put greater restrictions on investments by the Small Business Investment Corporation. Under the recommendation, the statutorily created SBIC would be required to meet the standards in the Prudent Investor Act on all investments, consider financial return as part of due diligence, and limit investments to small loans and not private equity.

Costly Sun Power Gets Thumbs Down

A Public Regulation Commission hearing officer has recommended commissioners deny a change to the Blue Sky renewable-energy program offered by the Public Service Company of New Mexico. Blue Sky customers currently get their power from the New Mexico Wind Energy Center near Fort Sumner at a cost of 1.06 cents per kilowatt hour. PNM wants to start supplying half the power for the Blue Sky program with new photovoltaic projects at a cost of 7.2 cents per kilowatt hour. The state so far this year has spent $2.3 million for Blue Sky program electricity.

No Budget for $1M for Facility Maintenance

Maintenance on two empty Health Department facilities is estimated at $1 million and no agency has the funds budgeted to cover the expense, the Health Department reports. The funds were not included in the budgets for the department or for the Property Control Division of the General Services Department, which did not anticipate taking over lead agency status for the old Fort Bayard Medical Center and old New Mexico Rehabilitation Center campus in Roswell.

Transitions

Greg Geisler has returned to LFC as a principal analyst. A certified public accountant, Geisler worked at LFC for five years before spending three years as the controller at the Transportation Department. Sonya Snyder is also joining LFC as a fiscal analyst. Snyder, who will be working on capital outlay issues, has 20 years of experience in statistical and financial analysis.

LFC has also hired Elisa Walker-Moran as chief economist and Charles Kassicieh as an economist. Both Walker-Moran and Kassicieh have masters degrees from the University of New Mexico with Walker-Moranís in economics and Kassiciehís in business administration. Walker-Moran has worked as an economic forecaster for the Human Services and labor departments.

Finally, LFC has hired Jack Evans and Jon Courtney as program evaluators. Evans has worked for four state governments and has experience primarily in transportation, health care and energy issues. He holds masters degrees in psychology and social work. Courtney, a policy analyst for Child Protective Services, has advanced degrees in experimental psychology.

Tom Church is the new deputy secretary for business support at the Transportation Department.

The New Mexico State University Board of Regents has hired Jeff Witte as the new secretary of the Department of Agriculture.

Sheila Hyde, formerly the Public Education Department deputy secretary for learning and accountability, has resigned.