This week on New Mexico in Focus, The Line opinion panel looks at recent outcomes for big-ticket taxpayer items. This past weekend saw the long-awaited first successful suborbital flight by Virgin Galactic. Launched from New Mexico’s Spaceport America, the flight brings the promise of space tourism one step closer. It’s a more than $200 million gamble made by then-Gov. Bill Richardson years ago.  

Businesses have paid millions into the state’s unemployment insurance fund, which was completely depleted during the pandemic. Now, a legislative report says the state’s Workforce Solutions Department overpaid up to $250 million dollars in unemployment benefits. Even if it’s a much lower number floated by the administration – around $105 million – it’s a stunning amount. The Line debates the problem and the governor’s reaction. 
The group also discusses a new report that suggests New Mexico is asking oil and gas producers for far too little when it comes to securing the money needed to clean up abandoned wells and their infrastructure. 
Antonia Gonzales gathers a group of experts to talk about bringing tribal communities out of the pandemic with the right kind of behavioral health support. It’s a problem for all communities in the state, but one that the Indian Affairs Department has been working on since the onset of COVID-19. 
Environment reporter Laura Paskus speaks with the director of the Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program, which has seen its funding slashed as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which funds the program, fights its own budget battle. The innovative project serves the dual purpose of providing an outdoor classroom for students while also collecting valuable data on the health of the Rio Grande and its ecosystem. 

New Mexico in Focus airs on NMPBS 5.1 (KNME HD) Friday, May 28 at 7 p.m. and Sunday, May 30 at 7 a.m.  

NMiF Segments 

Mental Health Awareness in Tribal Communities 
Antonia Gonzales 

Eldred Lesansee, NM Indian Affairs Department 
Alysia Coriz, Indigenous Youth Council member   
Teresa Gomez, Honoring Native Life 

Bosque Science and Data Program Faces Cuts 
Laura Paskus 

Greg Dyson, Bosque Ecosystem Monitoring Program 

The Line Opinion Panel  
Tom Garrity, The Garrity Group public relations 
Serge Martinez, UNM School of Law professor 
H. Diane Snyder, former state senator 

Gene Grant 

New Mexico in Focus is the New Mexico PBS prime-time news magazine show covering the events, issues, and people that are shaping life in New Mexico and the Southwest. NMiF takes a multi-layered look at social, political, economic health, education, and art issues, and explores them in-depth with a critical eye to give them context beyond the "news of the moment."

The producer of New Mexico in Focus is Matt Grubs, with Kathy Wimmer, associate producer. The NM PBS Public Affairs executive producer is Kevin McDonald.

The McCune Charitable Foundation provides NMiF funding, along with viewers like you. Get updates, watch and follow New Mexico PBS on FacebookTwitterYouTube, and more.