The streetcar that will not die

With Albuquerque’s City Council, it seems like bad ideas refuse to die while good ideas whither on the vine. My recent opinion piece in the Albuquerque Journal seems to be the only tangible sign of support for a reduction in the City’s gross receipts tax, but Councilors like Debbie O’Malley refuse to let the streetcar die the quick and painless death it deserves.
As recently as Monday night, O’Malley was trying to appropriate $224 million to the boondoggle. Thankfully, the resolution was deferred a week, but it (and other measures designed to keep the project alive) will undoubtedly be introduced in the future. Taxpayers must remain vigilant…everyone who pays taxes in this city should be a member of SWAT (Stop Wasting Albuquerque Taxes).

Another Teachable Moment on Tax Policy

I’m all for tax cuts, but does it really make sense for New Mexico to target boxing, wrestling, and martial arts events for gross receipts tax elimination? If New Mexico is going to continue with this fiction of a broad and fair tax policy as the gross receipts tax is supposed to be, then we can’t carve a loophole for everyone who wants one.
Again, as we saw with the Las Cruces convocation center losing events to Texas as a result of New Mexico’s charging tax on tickets and Texas not doing so, it is another sign that taxes do matter.
I just wish our elected officials would reduce the tax burden on all New Mexicans, not just those who run sporting events the Governor likes or who face an immediate threat from another state.

Movie Studio Madness

The Rio Grande Foundation has long been concerned about government-directed economic growth. A prime reason for our concern is that politicians are not experts in the field and, since they are not using their own money but taxpayer dollars, they don’t have the same incentives as entrepreneurs do.
Diane Velasco of The Citizen has done an excellent five-part series on the movie studios that are planning to relocate to Mesa del Sol and how in some instances the studios have misrepresented themselves in order to hitch a ride on the taxpayer-funded gravy train.
We’re all for economic development, but this activity is much better left to those with a direct financial stake in the matter, not politicians using our money.

Federal Land in New Mexico

Did you know that nealy 42 percent of New Mexico is owned by the federal government? A greater percentage of New Mexico is owned by the feds than even Washington, DC.
While there is certainly a justification for some of this land — military bases for example — it is hard to believe that absent any market forces acting on the federal government, that much of this land could not be put to more productive uses by someone who had an economic incentive to do so.

Taxes and Poverty

A few days ago on this blog, I outlined some work the Foundation has been doing on the correlation between poverty and the size of government. In a recent article on the subject that was published in the Albuquerque Tribune, I mentioned New Mexico Voices for Children as a group advocating higher taxes and higher government spending.
Well, their Executive Director Catherine Direen took enough offense to respond with a letter to the editor of her own. While she makes a number of points in her response, mostly dealing with a new study they are touting on the relative level of taxation of New Mexico’s poor people, her last point was the most interesting: “New Mexico is not a poor state because of its tax rate. New Mexico is a poor state because of its history of poor wages.”
If it is really as simple as that — New Mexico is poor because of low wages — then it really is as simple as using government’s coercive power to force those greedy business owners to pay higher wages. There are a number of reasons for New Mexico’s disproportionate poverty levels.
I’d love to have some debates with NM Voices folks for the sake of the Legislature.

Cut Albuquerque’s Taxes Now!

You may have seen this article in today’s Albuquerque Journal. We’re always happy to get published in New Mexico’s largest newspaper, but I wish they would have gotten the headline right…the gross receipts tax is NOT a sales tax! I pointed this out in the article today and I wrote an entire piece in the Albuquerque Tribune outlining the differences between the two and the greater economic harm that results from our gross receipts tax.
Regardless of what you call the tax, it is clear that Albuquerque has seen a rapid uptick in tax rates this decade. Hopefully Mayor Chavez’s proposal marks the beginning of further tax cuts.

Victory for New Mexico Property Owners!

Buried in all the hub-bub of a busy legislative session and Governor Richardson’s calls for a special session (not to mention the US attorney scandal), the eminent domain issue has been on the back-burner for many in the media and the punditry class.
Thankfully, despite a rocky road to success, Governor Richardson has signed legislation providing protections for New Mexico property owners. Protections for property owners were among the Foundation’s top priorities for the 2007 legislative session.
Considering the importance of the issue and the controversy that ensued after Richardson vetoed eminent domain protections the last year, it is hard to believe the Governor is not making more hay out of his successful effort to pass protections for property owners. He didn’t even send out a press release.
No matter what, it is a good day for private property in New Mexico.
Text of the legislation can be found here.

Fighting Poverty by Shrinking Government

All too often, those who want to expand government poverty programs seem to have the moral high ground in discussions with those who don’t. Nothing is easier than saying that a particular individual “doesn’t like poor people,” or that they are just “taking advantage” of those less fortunate.
In today’s Human Events I argue using ample state budget and poverty from the 1990s that regardless of empathy, it is fiscal conservatives, not advocates of big government, that are helping the poor. Since New Mexico is the third-poorest state in the nation, it is obvious that New Mexicans rely too much on government, but at the same time there is a clear way to improve our lot.

Richardson Vetoes HPV Bill

In something of a quick turnaround, Governor Richardson has vetoed a bill that would have put the state in charge of a system of mandatory vaccinations for all girls entering the 6th grade. As recently as 3 weeks ago,I’d blogged about the issue and mentioned that with Richardson having expressed support for the effort, the bill looked like “a slam dunk.”
Apparently, he got cold feet. Wise move by the Governo, especially after the debacle over this issue in Texas. States should not be in the business of providing mandatory vaccinations unless the disease is highly communicable and dangerous.