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An Open Letter to Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham
Concerning remote work, climate change, and equity.
Dear Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham,
I write to you today as a concerned economist, environmentalist, and former state of New Mexico employee. I was an economist for your Environment Department’s Climate Change Bureau, which is tasked with executing your 2019 Executive Order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in New Mexico. While I enjoyed working with talented NMED employees on important climate issues, I left due to your work-from-home policy that contradicts your stance on climate and decreases the standard of living for state employees.
The purpose of this letter is to bring attention to the issues caused by your rescinding of work-from-home that I witnessed while working in your executive branch. When we were allowed to work from home, we could live in affordable places, decrease our carbon footprint, enjoy more time with our loved ones, and effectively execute our jobs. For the following reasons, I urge you to rethink your work-from-home policy for state employees.
Work-from-home is an equity issue. Most New Mexicans can’t afford to live in Santa Fe on a state government salary, and state jobs outside of Santa Fe are few and far between. Without work-from-home, you are essentially pricing New Mexicans out of working for you unless they commute from a nearby city. Even then, the commute can be expensive, time-consuming, dangerous, and terrible for the climate.
Work-from-home is a climate issue. Those who do commute to Santa Fe to work for you are only adding to traffic on I-25, and greenhouse gases in our atmosphere. Ironically, your rescinding of work-from-home has added to the climate-changing emissions your executive order is trying to decrease.
Work-from-home is an HR issue. The state needs to become more competitive if it’s going to fill vacant roles. Today’s job market is very competitive, and the state isn’t doing much to convince anyone to work for them.
NMED doesn’t have the resources to enforce air quality regulations, and many departments have vacancy rates that are far worse. This can be attributed to a lack of funding from the legislature, but also a lack of personnel to execute local laws and regulations. The high vacancy rate at the state is detrimental to the health and well-being of our environment, and our economy. There are talented workers across this state willing to help you accomplish your administration’s lofty goals, but they can’t help you unless you offer employment fit for the 21st century.
Work-from-home would help you attract and retain talent from Jal to Shiprock, and every small town in-between. It would give you much-needed human resources, boost the economies of struggling small towns, ease the housing crisis in Santa Fe, decrease climate-changing emissions, and provide a work-life balance that workers are looking for.
Your administration has done great things for this state, and I look forward to your continued success, but I hope you find it within yourself to see remote work for what it is - a policy that would help you accomplish your goals and New Mexico’s potential.
Thank you for all that you do for New Mexico, and for your time and attention to this important issue.
Austin M. Anaya, MBA