By Edward Calabaza, Former member of the Isleta Tribal Council
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According to State Senator Katy Duhigg, New Mexicans are represented in the state legislature, “largely [by] the rich and retired,” (“Bill That Would Pay Lawmakers Makes Its Way Through Committee,” Jan 24, 2022). These lawmakers should tread carefully when considering proposals to reform the small dollar loan system with rate caps – a system the “rich and retired” aren’t likely familiar with, but many New Mexicans need to pay unexpected bills or to make ends meet some months. The need is especially great as the COVID crisis continues to upset personal finances. A recent poll found that almost a third of our state’s sizeable Hispanic population earned less than $20,000 a year last year, and 60% of all Hispanics have less than $1,000 in savings.
Legislators must proceed with caution and should continue to study rate cap regulations to avoid unintended consequences that will hurt low-income consumers. We cannot make accessing credit more difficult for those of us who aren’t as fortunate financially. After all, regardless of their personal economics, our legislature represents all of us at all income levels.