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Proposal may bring high-paying jobs to N.M.
By: Stephanie Guadian
LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- A New Mexico think tank is taking on what members call the No. 1 issue affecting the state right now jobs.
Members of Think New Mexico believe international students could play a role in bringing high-paying jobs to the state.
"Here we are suggesting offering in-state tuition to international students to stem fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Because, those are where the entrepreneurs come from," said Fred Nathan, executive director of Think New Mexico.
Resident Alan Hutcheson said he knows first hand how low the state's income compares to other states.
"Income in New Mexico is really bad. I lived in Colorado for a few years. And, when we came back down here, by 63 percent," Hutcheson said.
He said the idea to offer in-state tuition to international students would be a good idea.
"I don't see anything wrong with it as long as they stay in New Mexico," Hutcheson said.
Right now, full-time in-state students at New Mexico State University pay $3,354 per semester. In comparison, international students pay $10,065.
"Forty percent of the Fortune 500 companies were started by immigrants, like Sergey Brin at Google," Hutcheson said.
To pay for the plan, Think New Mexico suggests eliminating or reforming what they call seven ineffective tax breaks and redirecting the money to attracting international students to the state. Those include tax breaks for cigarette distributors, horse racing and professional fighting.
Las Cruces resident Alex Naranjo likes the plan.
"I don't have a problem with people coming from anywhere. They can come down from the moon if they want. As long as they create something positive for the people who are looking for jobs," Naranjo said.
The plan includes creating a one-stop online portal where businesses can file required forms and pay fees. It would also reward businesses after they have created new jobs as opposed to giving incentive money up front. Think New Mexico hopes to be supported by three bills by January with bipartisan support.