tv Key Capitol Hill Hearings CSPAN January 28, 2015 6:00am-8:01am EST
>> and now live to london. each week the house of commons is in session we bring you prime minister david cameron taking questions from members of the house of commons live wednesday mornings it on on c-span2. we also invite your participation via twitter using hashtag pmqs. prior to question time members are finishing up other business. and now live to the floor of the british house of commons. >> i agree with my honorable friend. i think this potential change is
a great potential to transform the northern ireland economy which is all restore and recover. private sector employment is up by 51,000 since the election unemployment is down 6000 since the election and the claimant count is down -- >> alexander macdonald. >> thank you very much mr. speaker. you will be aware the strength in the economy requires multiple factors, not just the reduction of tax. does the secretary of state appreciate how critical regional connectivity is? will the heathrow slots be protected? >> i'm afraid it's not for me to speak to that but i think it is vital heathrow maintain its connection. i also agree corporation tax reduction on its own isn't
enough for economic recovery. it's also crucial to economic reform and investment in infrastructure accompanies the future changed. >> last but not least. >> number 10. [cheers and applause] >> trying to understand the strong interest in whether proposals for the union flag should apply in northern ireland, but drivers licensing is a matter for northern ireland and it is for executive ministers to decide whether to adopt the changes announced for the rest of the country. >> the minister will know that -- [inaudible] and surely if we believe in the union, people in northern ireland should have the rights as everyone else in the united kingdom to have the flag of the country flying on their driving license. will the minister agree? >> well, i share her sentiments about the importance of the union flag but i would emphasize
that in terms of putting it on drivers licenses, this is a default matter and it is a matter for the executive. >> order. questions to the prime minister. question one is a closed question, closed question. mr. frank field. >> question number one. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i have no current plans to do so. >> mr. frank field. >> given the current cabinet secretary said in 2009 in his judgment of the inquiry would take a year and that we have had now two general elections before we see this report, might i ask him to write to the chairman and get a date when this report will be headed to the prime minister and then published? >> well, i have written to the inquiry chair and i've expressed my frustration but i have to say to the honorable gentleman that it is not for this government to interfere in how this inquiry which was set up with terms of reference by the last government
is conducting itself. it wouldn't be right but i have to say it again, trying to that i first voted for this inquiry back in 2006 and members opposite voted against it in 2006, including by the way the leader of the opposition in 2006, 2007 in 2008 even as late as 2009 they were still voting against an inquiry which would be here discussed, debated and finished by now. >> if there is a willing supplementary on this matter i'll take it otherwise would move to the next question. >> question number two mr. speaker,. >> thank you, mr. speaker year this morning i had meetings with ministerial colleagues and others, and in addition to my duties in this house, i shall have further such meetings later today. >> lillian greenwood. >> my constituents keep telling that the number one concern is what's happening to our national health service but across the country essential services are a
breaking point. give an hour and h. s. didn't even make the prime minister's top six priorities for the election shouldn't everybody who cares about our nhs labour on the seventh of may? >> i think what people need to know about our nhs is it is this government that decided to invest in the nhs am ignoring labour's advice to cut the nhs. and when we look at nottingham we can actually see compared to 2010 the our 158 more doctors 646 more nurses, and the nhs is doing well. what a contrast with wales where labour are in charge -- [shouting] >> i know they don't like to hear but they cut the nhs by 8% in wales and because of labour the nhs is doing worse in wales than it is in england. >> thank you, mr. speaker. yesterday marks the 70th anniversary of the liberation of
auschwitz-birkenau. but a welcome my right on old friends acceptance of all the recommendations to the holocaust commission which was set up by the government. we'll be particular make sure that the last thing monuments to this terrible tragedy is accessible throughout the united kingdom? i would also the funding for the lessons for auschwitz project so ably put together by the holocaust education trust? >> i'm sure my honorable friend speaks on behalf of the whole house but he did also the whole country in wanting to commemorate the seventh anniversary the liberation of auschwitz but also to make sure here in britain we properly commemorate the horrors of the auschwitz for years to come because the survivors and the leader of the position and the deputy prime minister and i were privileged to meet so many survivors yesterday with their extraordinary stories to tell
but they can't go on telling those stories for ever. so it's vital we recorded testimony, make sure education about the holocaust is maintained and we established this national monument in three places for it have been identified and if this were goes ahead, starting now with all parties support. >> here, here. >> ed miliband. [shouting] >> mr. speaker, let me first of a psoas muscle for the marks of the honorable gentleman and the prime minister. yesterday was an incredibly moving and emotional day for anyone who took part in the commemoration. i think the prime minister for the work that has been done on part of the holocaust commission and i can actually confirm that we have taken forward on a cross party basis so we do indeed keep the memory alive. >> here, here. >> before the last election for prime minister said he was going to have a bare knuckle fight to save 29 a&e and maternity units in the published the list. can you assure the house in line with his promised all the services have been protected?
>> well, i'm very glad the honorable gentleman has mentioned the nhs because i think before we go any further he needs to clear something up. he has now been asked nine times whether he made the disgraceful remarks about weaponizing the nhs. [shouting] now, i think everyone in this house, and i suspect everyone in this country, knows he made those remarks so we should get up at the dispatch box he should apologize to this appalling remark and then we can take this debate forward. [shouting] >> the only person who should be apologizing is this prime minister who has broken all his promises on the national health service. and he didn't give us an answer did he? he toured the country standing by hospitals promising that services would remain open. let me tell you about a few of those services. the a&e of the queen mary
hospital, that is now close. the maternity unit closed, the a&e unit indwelling, closed. why did he break his promises? >> it's very simple, mr. speaker. one of the most respected political journalists in britain, nick robinson the political editor of the bbc said this, and then go to quote it however long it takes, mr. speaker, a phrase the labour leader uses in private is that he wants to, and i quote, weaponize the nhs for policy. [shouting] now, that is one of the most respected journalists in in our country. will be now get to the dispatch box and apologize for this appalling remark? >> this is a ridiculous, this is ridiculous smokescreen from a prime minister running from his record on the nhs. [shouting] the answer because it is prime minister's question is the ball
close, all of those units have closed. let me give him another one. let me give them another one. the a&e unit at chase farm and he stood outside with their local mp saying hands off our hospital, no two cuts noted closures. is the a&e at chase farm opened or closed? >> i will tell them i record on the nhs. 9000 more doctors, 6000 more nurses, hospital acquired infection right there. investment up. but people rightly want to know what his motives are when it comes to the nhs. if his motives are that he cares about this great national institution, fine but he told the editor of the political editor of bbc he wanted to weaponize the nhs. so i ask him again, get up there and withdraw. [shouting] >> i'll tell him what my motive
is. it's to rescue the national health service from this story government. [shouting] and, frankly this is a man who has a war on wales and he is using the welsh nhs to make political propaganda. this is a man, this is a man who has broken -- >> order order. for the avoidance of doubt however long it takes, the question -- [shouting] the questions from the leader of the opposition will be heard, and so will the answers to the prime minister. that is the situation, and the sooner people learn that quite simple lesson, the better. mr. ed miliband. >> we know this prime minister is an all on the nhs and this is all he could offer the british people. it's time i had some answers from him. now, he has broken his promises on waiting times on a&e. he can defend what he said about maternity and emergency services.
can be explained this morning why new guidance has been issued for some hospitals making it harder for them to declare a major incident? >> let me answer that very directly. [shouting] the nhs the nhs in the west midlands without any instruction from the department of health, without any instruction from ministers issued a statement about major incidents. ahead of nhs england was asked about it this morning and she said this, i haven't been under any political pressure. this document was issued in the west midlands. what a contrast between the operational managers of the nhs and the man who wants to weaponize the nhs. [shouting] now, the right honorable member, he mentioned whales. he criticized me a moment ago for mentioning whales. he seems to have forgotten that yesterday he said this to the bbc, and let me quote. he said this it is right to
look at problems in wales and to compare. that is what he said yesterday. now, let's look at what happened today in wales. the welsh ambulance service statistics have come out and they are the worst ever on record. just 42% of emergency calls are answered in time compared with 70% in england. so will he now admit, we can now admit that labour's catastrophic cuts and mismanagement in wales have cost the nhs dear? >> mr. speaker, the last time he was in charge in wales people were waiting to years for an operation. that is the comparison with what was happening. everyone will have heard he did not answer the question. he did not answer the question about what is happening in the nhs in england. this is what the head of operations at one nhs hospitals said, and i quote. this is the enhanced criteria
that have been introduced by nhs england to stop trust from calling a major incident. the whistleblower says the hospital answer been tied to a prime minister said they're not. who does he think people will believe? >> people will believe the head of nhs england who said that this very clearly this morning local hospitals continue responsibly of deciding whether to declare major incidents. it's perfectly clear what's happening, mr. speaker he is grasping a stuff because he's in a desperate mess on the nhs. he talks about wales. here's the record. ahead of the population 10 times more people in wales on a waiting list for an operation. know twice as many and once is failing to meet those urgent calls. almost twice as the people waiting for more than four hours per a&e. that is what is happening in the nhs in wales because labour ministers at its budget. but the reason, the reason is in such a mess on nhs is this. a week ago, a week ago the
shadow chancellor said that everything from their new homes taxes go into the nhs yesterday the leader of the labour party said he had a plan to pay down the deficit with tax changes at the mention attacks we have announced. so there we have it. 99 days to go before the election and they can't even have a sensible policy on the nhs. what a completely useless opposition to. [shouting] >> ninety-nine days to check out a prime minister who is broken all his promises on the national health service. and today's revelation shows once again the nhs under him is in crisis and under strain. it is a crisis of his making, on his watch, and that's why nobody will trust them with the nhs ever again. [shouting] spin what a contrast, mr. speaker, this government dealing with unions to stop the action
in the nhs. a labour party weaponizing the nhs. that is what everyone can see. he talks but what is happened this week. we've seen labour casting around for a coalition with the snp, a coalition with sinn fein, the first time in britain you have people who want to break up britain or bankrupt britain. what a useless challenge. [shouting] >> mr. stevens gilbert. [shouting] spin thank you very much, mr. speaker but after watching that i reminded of the famous line, clowns to the left and jokers to the right. [laughter] >> yeah, yeah. >> eight months ago -- [shouting] eight months ago the second state -- [inaudible] usher people in cornwall that the delay over resulting the eu funding program would be settled. eight months later hundreds of
months of pounds of investment and hundreds of jobs are at risk. will the prime minister please sort out this pickle? >> well, what i've done my best to run a coalition government i do occasionally get stuck in the middle with the liberal democrats. but what i will say is that it is this government that is delivering for the west country because we're sorting of the transport them a the local produce, putting money into road and rail connections. with help with the final airport and the roots act to london and we'll go well because we want to close the income gap between the southwest and the rest of our country. >> thank you, mr. speaker. workers deliver the most basic of support needed to provide dignity to so many. painting cleaning dressing feeding. yet 300,000 fewer older people are enjoying that dignity now than they were four years ago. is it because, is it because they don't need it?
or is it because he has cut care budget by 3.5 billion pounds while cutting taxes for millionaires? >> what this government has done is put 3.2 billion pounds of health money into social services already, and of course from the first of april that medicare fund will start which will put 5.3 billion pounds into the social care, something which labour argued should be delayed. but what the question she has to answer is that the shadow chancellor said, and he couldn't be more clear, he said this, there will be no additional funding for local government including social services in less we can find a money from somewhere else. but we have not been able to do that in the case of local government. this is what labour do. bickle ran the country promising more money for this more money for that. and in the few moments of honesty they reveal they haven't got any more money.
>> does my right honorable friend recall that not long after the liberation of auschwitz, the british army liberated another camp, bring 60,000 starving inmates many who were saved by british medical service? does he also recalled that our allies at the time the russians and the countries of the former soviet union, in the struggle to defeat nazi germany lost 40 million civilians and soldiers in the conflict and should we not pay them some tribute, to? >> my boyfriend is absolute right we should pay tribute to all those who helped to defeat the evil of nazi german. i think it is a good day to be traded to the liberators of the camp, the british soldiers who did it at the holocaust memorial event yesterday there was an incredible moving testament of what he found with those soldiers, was played for everyone to hear and we should be very proud of the role the british soldiers played in
liberating these appalling death camps. >> mr. speaker, last week the institute for fiscal studies revealed -- [inaudible] >> once the iss report found is that the richest pay the most in terms of reducing the deficit, and we should be very clear about the figures. the richest 20% actually paid more in terms of reducing the deficit than the remaining 80% it altogether. but if you wants to quote the isf she might want to member what the iss said, and when they said this, we have had a great big recession. with the biggest recession we had in 100 years. it would be astonishing if household incomes haven't fallen and earnings haven't fallen. that is the view of the isf and they are right. the view of the isf is also that the shadow chancellor's plans are for an extra
170 billion pounds of borrowing in our country. so the labour party are going to quote the isf, they should accept their figures for more spending, borrowing and more debt, all the things that got this country into the mess in the first place. >> thank you, mr. speaker. the prime minister will be aware that -- one of the first practices in the country to receive money under the prime minister's challenge fund so that gp surgeries can be open seven days a week from 8:00 a.m. until 8 p.m. but i like to commend dr. mark stamler who is the mastermind behind this. i hope the prime minister is aware and will agree with me that they should be continued and will be extra for all gp services in the country. >> here, here. >> i think my friend is right. the challenge fund was set up as allowed already 4 million people access to gp surgery, seven days a week. i'm delighted that people are benefiting from this.
i want to see the spread right across the country and i think it would be an important part of the answer to relieving pressure on our a&e units as well. >> if the prime minister won't apologize about the trend foreclosures, maybe he will have a goal at the following subjects. why is it that we've got a record number of people queuing up for food banks? will he apologize to them? will you apologize to those that are on payday loans struggling to pay them back? will he apologize to those on zero our contract with a record number. the truth is this prime minister has got a longer record that he is making -- andy coulson. [shouting] >> what i would say to the honorable gentleman, he mentions
zero our contractor to go but he supported did nothing about them. we legislate. he mentioned the payday lending an industry that boomed under labour regulated properly under this government. he talks about queues, what about the queue of people been getting jobs under this government? over 1000 a day. but i have to say i thought the honorable gentleman might have taken a different attack today because if he reads the newspapers, you can get quite nostalgic. you have blairites fighting brown eyes. you that peter mandelson taking out a great big lone pickup that he might get all nostalgic on us. it's like the old days. [shouting] [laughter] >> order. last night. >> thank you, mr. speaker. -- [laughter] britain's economic success is making it possible for the northern powerhouse to transform
the fortunes of an important part of our country. does my right honorable friend agree that investment such as in the new institute for advanced material, the henry royce institute, supports our top universities and will promote innovation which will bring back high quality manufacturing jobs to the north of england? >> i think my right honorable friend is absolutely right to raise this. one of the most important decisions we took one making difficult spending decisions was to maintain the investment into science. we've also improved our universities by making sure they are properly funding. i think this nation of science and university is going to be an absolute key to britain's future economic success, and i'm delighted we've got a 235 million-pound investment into the new sir henry royce material research in manchester. this is a key part of the
project that is going to properly read both our economy makeand make sure we see growth and prosperity in every region. >> absolute poverty, the rights of the working poor and very seriously sick poor people impoverished by the way for the benefits. is the prime minister proud of this record? >> i'm afraid the ladies suspect arson the wrong. i know labour don't like to hear this but the fact is there are 600,000 fewer people in relative poverty than they were at the election. there are 300,000 fewer children in relative poverty. inequality is lower than it was at the election, and you can now see 1.75 million more of our fellow countrymen and women in work. behind all those statistics are people are able to go out and earn a wage and have a payback and support their families. i would've thought the labour party of all parties would want to support that. >> thank you, mr. speaker.
my constituent has been waiting nearly 15 months for urgent bowel surgery. if she lived in england she could've had this in six weeks. nhs wales refuse treatment on the basis it is technically available in wales although ironically there are no surgeons available to do it. someone somewhere needs to make a commonsense and give me decision to help make that happen. >> well, i will look at this case in terms of it is a very sad case but i'm afraid not an isolated case because as the welsh national audit office found, overall welsh patients face shorter waits in england ended in wales and that is the factor what we need is a change of direction in wales from the labour of administration instead of cutting the nhs they should be investing in the nhs. instead of leaving the bureaucracy in place they should be taking the bureaucracy of the nhs. in short, they should be taking a different track so we give people a better nhs.
>> thank you, mr. speaker. yesterday mr. speaker graciously allowed the group -- [inaudible] to use his state department for the report to which demonstrates the people with the disease are having great problems accessing the funding that is available the communication sport england. [inaudible] 95% will lose their voice. with the prime minister meet with the society to talk about why the delays are happening in nhs england quickly agreed to fund the communication support for the society can provide quickly and effectively while the nhs gets its act in order so that no one dies without being able to communicate their last thoughts to their loved ones of? >> first of all that they commend the honorable lady for the work she is doing and others across the south on that
disease. anyone who is not so with u.s. suffered and died the people who suffered from it is the most appalling, debilitating condition and it is very very difficult for families to cope with so i will look at the report shows produced, make sure opera major help with the department of health so everything we can do to support these people and allow them to communicate to the families with of them at the last moment can be done. >> thank you, mr. speaker. it is now quite clear a decision by the less government for the hospital with the last -- all being led by the private sector were deeply flawed and will see massive failure. does the prime minister except his extermination has failed and the future of the hospital should be fully within a public nhs? >> it's important we make decisions based on what is going to be best for patients. mighty is that there is a role for the independent sector
within the nhs but it's only gone from something like 5% of the total to 6% of the total. there's no good on the members opposite shouting about privatization but it was their decision to allow this hospital to be run by the private sector. and frankly on a day, on a day when they are in complete confusion about their health policy, you've got a shadow health secretary saying he opposes all of this but can't say what percentage should be in the private sector. you've got his deputy saying they want to see more of the nhs in the private sector. you've got the leader of the opposition refusing to confirm that his shadow secretary of state has his full confidence, yet this is meant to be their great big election winning idea. what a complete shambles. >> the prime minister is chancellor of the entire conservative party likes to talk about their economic plan.
[shouting] [inaudible] >> an independent report published yesterday from a group of academics shows -- [shouting] >> i can wait. shows -- shows -- shows that welfare cuts merely conjugated to cutting tax or higher earners and contributed nothing to reducing the deficit. it also shows that sounds with children under the age of five have been the hardest hit. so what future is there for the country with an economic plan that steals from the poor and gives it to the rich? [shouting] >> let me go by the way the long-term economic plan.
[shouting] let me -- [shouting] let me tell him -- let me tell them how it is going in his own constituency. and nevermind academics. let's see what's happening for working people in his district. [shouting] the number of people claiming unemployment benefit down by 31%. they use claimant count down by 34%. the long-term use claimant count down by 57% in the last year alone. look across london and you can see 470,000 more people in work. over half a million private sector jobs created. what i want to know is when the labour party become the welfare party? when did that happen? is this side of the house standing up for hard-working people on the side of work, on the side of enterprise reforming work and just reforming welfare to make that happen. [shouting] >> thank you, mr. speaker.
in the prime minister's long-term economic plan -- [shouting] can ask that he continues to ensure support for britain's community like fleetwood in a language or a note to make up for the 13 years of neglect by the previous labour government? [shouting] spent my honorable friend is absolutely about the importance of investing in our coastal community. and that is what we have done about our coastal communities fund. so for over 200 projects have benefited creating or safeguarding over 16,000 jobs. i know that fleetwood received a boost from the fund last you when he was -- to develop new tourist attractions but i want to see more happen to help his constituents, to help our coastal communities of which people such an important part. >> the prime minister will be aware of the remarkable work that has been carried out at the
stockyards to build the country's new aircraft carriers. scotland needs a new generation of young skilled workers. will the prime minister guaranteed that you use the power to deliver real apprenticeship opportunities for young scots? >> of course will do that. and when you go and visit the aircraft carriers being built, you can see that there's an enormous investment in apprenticeship numbers and a huge benefit they can place in terms that investment and, of course the carriers just haven't benefited status apprenticeships but also they've been built in part right around the united kingdom. but let me make a point we can only afford to make these decisions because of the long-term economic plan and a strong economy. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i know that a do not need to remind the house of 453 members of our armed forces have lost their lives in afghanistan and many, many more were wounded,
some seriously. although we are brought home most of our troops, the 400 men and women of two rifles are still serving in kabul with great distinction in support of government forces. with my writable friend agree with me that it's time we recognize the efforts of all those who serve in this war? >> well, i very much agree with my honorable friend. all british combat troops left afghanistan by the end of last year who fulfill the moment i made almost five years ago. on monday monday my right eye with in the defense secretary welcome to parliament the final homecoming parade of our combat troops deployed in afghanistan. and today i'm pleased to announce that we will hold a special service of commemoration in the cathedral in a military parade on the 13th of march to mark the end of combat operations in afghanistan. i believe, tragic it is a fitting moment to pay tribute to extort their contribution made by our armed forces in afghanistan, over 13 years. 453 lost their lives and many more were injured.
their mission has helped prevent afghanistan from being used as a base to launch attacks on us here at home and they been able afghanistan to begin the task of looking after its own security in the years ahead. the whole house into the whole country is right to be incredibly proud of our armed forces and all who serve in afghanistan. >> here, here. >> thank you, mr. speaker. i wonder does the prime minister has yet had a chance to place a call to a lexus the new prime minister of greece -- [laughter] to congratulate him on winning the election but also to learn from him why the people of greece have finally said no to the imposition of the most appalling austerity, destruction of their public service, high levels of unemployment and crippling poverty? will use his offices within european union to ensure they do get a debt write off base to
does with seeking an or to restore greece to the prosperity they deserve to enjoy? >> i have had the privilege of speaking to the new greek prime minister. indeed, i asked him what his long-term economic plan was. [laughter] what i think is absolutely key to recognize is that over the last four years we've seen the british deficit come down, we've seen jobs created the economy bigger than it was before the crash was in greece they have had repeated economic failures and you can hardly blame them for wanting to take a different approach. i hope good sense will prevail on all sides. and as i said to the greek prime minister, the there are areas we can work together, not least because britain has led the world on tax conspiracy making sure companies pay the taxes that they should, something that needs to happen increase as well as the rest of the european union. >> general practitioner recruitment is a problem
national but particularly for rural practices. many gp practices on both sides of england and wales border serves patients from both nations your what can the government in westminster due to working constructively with the welsh government to promote training and recruitment of gps so practices remain viable and sustainable? >> i think one of the things we can do is to share ideas with the welsh assembly government. one thing we are finding it is to to make sure the newly qualified doctors are offered special payments if they become gps as part of the plan went to recruit even more. in england we have 1000 more gps working than we did back in 2010, and help the nhs in wales, while it is underfunded by the labour government in wales, we'll look at creative ideas like this. >> a report today -- doesn't this show that my constituents are suffering because of his
failed to deal with the cost of living a crisis? >> her constituents are benefiting from the fact the economy is growing, our deficit is coming down we are creating jobs but we are dealing with the debt crisis which are government put in place in our country. that is what's happening, but every day the british economy and the british country is getting stronger. everyday labour party is getting weaker. >> thank you, mr. speaker. as a result of the early diagnosis -- latest medicines 12,000 more patients every year are now predicted to survive. with the prime minister agree with me while it is very encouraging, as long way to go have to maintain our focus on fighting cancer and? >> i think my ottawa friend is absolutely right. what we see in our country is a 50% increase in cancer referrals which means where identifying cancer earlier and treating them better.
we also have a cancer drugs fund which has helped 60,000 pages but we need to go on with these improvements. we will only double-digit of a strong economy backing our strong nhs. >> order. >> here on c-span2 we will now leave the british house of commons as members move on to other business. you have been watching prime minister's question time aired live wednesdays at 7 a.m. eastern when parliament is in session to a reminder you can see this week's session again sunday nights at nine eastern and pacific on c-span. and for more information go to c-span.org and click on series to get every program we have erred from the british house of commons since october of 1989. and we invite your comments about prime minister's question via twitter using hashtag pmqs pmqs. >> c-span2 providing live coverage of u.s. senate for
proceedings and key public policy defense, and every weekend booktv now for 15 years the only television network devoted to nonfiction books and authors to c-span to great by the cable tv industry and brought you as a public service by your local cable or satellite provider. watch us in hd, like us on facebook and follow us on twitter. >> in her annual state of the state address, new mexico governor susanna martinez called for higher teacher pay and more funding for highways and job training programs. from the state capital in santa fe, this is 50 minutes. >> thank you. [applause] thank you so much. lieutenant governor, senate president pro tempore, our new house speaker, democratic and republican leaders, esteemed members of the new mexico legislature, honorable members
of the judiciary, former new mexico governors, tribal governors, former senator pete domenici, distinguished guests,the state's first gentleman, my husband, chuck franco, the state's first son, carlo. [applause] and to all my fellow new mexicans. it is an honor to join you for the annual state of the state address and open this legislative session. this session, we must lead with courage. we must commit ourselves to the task of charting a better and stronger future for our children. in everything we do this session, we must focus on how it impacts the children of new mexico. how it improves their safety and well-being today, and how we ensure they have a future
without limits as they chase their dreams for tomorrow. quite simply, there is no greater calling for those of us in this chamber. that means continuing to improve our schools so that every child receives a quality education. it means creating a diverse economy, and new jobs, in all sorts of industries. and it means coming together to tackle the devastating impact of child abuse and neglect. [applause] my friends i am grateful and blessed to have been re-elected as your governor. i am humbled by the strong support we received statewide, from gallup to hobbs, and albuquerque to las vegas.
and yes, republicans in particular had a strong showing on election night, with candidates who supported tax reforms and education reforms defeating incumbents who had been defenders of the status quo. consequently, there is a new republican majority in the state house. [applause] congratulations to each new member and to your leader, speaker don tripp. [applause] but as i said in my inaugural address, voters didn't choose one party over another in november. i firmly believe they chose progress over politics.
they chose to move forward, to keep reforming, and that's my commitment, to work together with republicans and democrats to make new mexico an even better place to live, for them, and for their children and grandchildren. let's build upon the foundation we have laid over the last four years. because we have accomplished a great deal together. [applause] closed the largest structural budget deficit in state history, and put our finances back in order; passed the most sweeping tax reform in a generation; took ourselves out from under an unworkable federal education law, allowing us more local control, and we now have more and better information about how our schools are performing than ever before; and, reformed medicaid to make it more
patient-centered, and expanded medicaid, providing health coverage to 185,000 more new mexicans. [applause] we should be proud of these bipartisan achievements. and as we look ahead, know this. i will not mark time. and i ask that you make that same commitment. i ask that, in every decision, we will choose courage over comfort, change over stagnation reform over the status quo. the courageous route, paved with policies that will outlast each of us and fundamentally improve new mexico.
[applause] our greatest challenge is making new mexico more competitive economically, and less reliant on federal spending. it's about charting our own course, and creating an economy as diverse as our great state so that our children and grandchildren can find good-paying jobs here in new mexico when they finish school. we've worked toward this goal, in a bipartisan way. we cut the business tax rate by 22%; stopped unfairly taxing our exporting manufacturers; more than tripled the size of our closing fund to attract companies; invested in job training to help small businesses; and, focused our tourism dollars behind smart advertising and our record-breaking new mexico true campaign.
on our watch, exports to mexico are at an all-time high. we've been ranked number one in the nation in export growth. [applause] in santa teresa, our border port is thriving. new mexico is poised to become a key trade route between the united states and mexico central america, and south america. our tax rate on manufacturing improved from 3rd worst in the region to the best in the west. [applause] even more promising, over the past year, we created 14,000 jobs and our private sector grew at a rate of 2.4% lifting us in the state-by-state rankings all
the way to the 15th fastest growing private sector in the country. [applause] and over the last year, we've seen new mexico companies expand their workforce, as we also welcome new companies here from around the world. a few of these small businesses have joined us today. local companies like pesco in farmington, a family-run manufacturer that recently committed to adding 150 new employees over the next few years. kyle rhodes and gini baxter, thank you for being here. [applause] and vitality works, a new mexico company that started in 1982; they added 50 new employees this year and continue to grow and do
business throughout the world. mitch coven and jackie keeper you do great work. thank you for being here as well. [applause] or dhf technical products, a california company that moved its headquarters to rio rancho last year. just like southwest steel coil and flagship food group, two other california companies that are bringing jobs here. dan castilleja and larry fell with dhf, said publicly it was our newly competitive business , ma what you all helped to create, atlanta and to make such a dramatic move. they also noted that they could've chosen to do business anywhere in the country, and they chose us.
[applause] dan and larry, you've got that right, and we thank you for moving your company to new mexico. you will never regret it. [applause] whether it's these, or the dozens of other companies that have committed to growing or relocating in new mexico in the last year they are proof that we can compete. we don't have to rely on washington to dictate our future. but there's obviously much more to be done important work that begins, in earnest, this legislative session. first, i believe small businesses drive our economy, and they need a level playing field to compete with big corporations.
i come from a family of small business owners. i've seen it. we should partner with these risk-takers, and provide additional funding for our successful job training program where the state pays a portion of the salary of new employees hired in new mexico while they're being trained. we should invest more in main street districts, particularly in rural areas, where we have seen literally hundreds of new small businesses start or grow in the past few years. and, i am proposing targeted tax relief for small business owners to reduce the personal income tax burden on small business owners during the early stages while they're hiring new employees and getting off the ground. let's grow our small businesses. they're taking great risk, and they deserve our support.
[applause] but while we help small businesses thrive here in new mexico, we must compete to bring new jobs to our state from elsewhere. recently, the executives of a major national company told me we have never even considered new mexico when decided where to plan. always looked right past your state. then someone told us we wouldn't believe what's happening there and that we should take a second look. so, we did and we couldn't believe what we found. my friends the word is getting out, but there are several things we can do to turn up the volume. that's why i'm proposing a $50 million closing fund for
economic development projects. [applause] we should also provide specific incentives to attract companies to move their headquarters to new mexico. and there are commonsense measures we can enact this year that won't cost state government a single dime, but would save new mexicans money and make new mexico a more attractive place to do business. for example, i firmly believe that every person should be allowed to choose for themselves whether they want to join a union or contribute to one. [applause]
this isn't a complicated concept, it really isn't, and most people agree. if a worker wants to join a union, then they will. but it is fundamentally wrong to require membership or take money from the paychecks of our workers in order to get a job. for these workers, this is gas money, rent or a car payment. and studies have shown that states where workers are allowed to make this choice for themselves have higher employment levels, and companies locate there more often. because of this policy. it's time we protect the paychecks of new mexico workers. it's commonsense, and it is long overdue.
[applause] we need to make new mexico a high-tech jobs leader as well. after all, we have all the necessary pieces, national labs, our bases high-tech companies, and quality universities. but the good ideas being worked on at our labs and universities right here in new mexico need to be brought to the marketplace here as well. so our kids who dream of becoming scientists can be educated at our universities, and then take what they learn to create new mexico jobs. we can make that happen, through the technology research collaborative. and we need stronger incentives for the creation of technology jobs and more private investment, by angel investors, in high-tech start-up companies
all over the state. helping small businesses grow attracting companies and jobs from elsewhere, and making new mexico a high-tech jobs leader, that's how you create a more diverse economy and a stronger private sector. [applause] of course we also need to build a stronger foundation for economic growth in particular better infrastructure and a talented workforce. last year i am proud that we came together to support $89 million in new water infrastructure in new mexico. now, however, we must turn our attention to our aging highway infrastructure, to roads that are unsafe, failing, and impeding economic growth.
we've seen what happens when we work together to address major highway problems. just a few weeks ago we opened the interchange at paseo del norte and i-25 in albuquerque. it was funded, in part, with state money, that leveraged federal and local dollars, a true partnership. we can complete large projects, of similar magnitude, in every corner of the state. i propose that we allocate at least $180 million of infrastructure money over the next three years for major highway construction projects across new mexico. [applause] even more critical to building a strong foundation for our
economy is our workforce. are they well educated? can they read? did they graduate? are they capable of holding the jobs of tomorrow? because if they are all these things, they are employable. there is no question they will be able to create a brighter future for themselves and their families no question they can seize the american dream, and no question they can fulfill the desire in each of us to see our kids have it better than we did. i firmly believe that education is the road that will lead out of poverty for each new mexico child, for each struggling family, and for our state as a whole.
[applause] why do i believe that? because education is what plants the seeds of wonder, of curiosity, of excitement in a child, points them to opportunities and goals, inspires dreams about careers and about better days, gives them hope, that today's circumstances do not have to be tomorrow's circumstances. if we agree education is that powerful capable of lifting a child's spirit, a family's future, and a state's economy, then a quality education is what
we must ensure every new mexico child receives. [applause] when we see failing schools, we must turn them around, and have the courage to intervene. don't take the comfortable route and simply hope the school will improve on its own someday. like in gadsden, for example, a poor district where english tends to be the second language, and where district leaders and teachers could have made excuses for decades of poor performance. but they didn't. courage is saying, no more excuses. every child can learn. [applause]
they took a district that had only one a school four years ago to five a schools today, and nine d or f schools back then to zero now. [applause] or the courage of judith foster, an elementary school principal in las cruces to sign herself and her teachers up for our intensive school turnaround program. her school was a d school. she wouldn't settle for that, and it's paid off. today, loma heights elementary has a b with more kids on grade level in reading and math. judith is here, alongside teachers stephanie cabrera and jeremy sanchez. congratulations. [applause] ..