According to the National Assessment of Education Progress, New Mexico is not making progress in 4th and 8th grade science. Despite the ballyhooed “reforms” of 2003 (and all the “reforms” before that) we remain near the bottom. Here is the summary for grade 4:
Here is the summary for grade 8:
Check out this stealth tax increase. The wishful thinkers now have a desire named streetcar; and you will be paying for it. If my understanding is correct, this gross receipts tax increase will prevent a scheduled one-quarter of one percent tax reduction that was scheduled to take place because of a sunset clause in the prior ordinance. And, of course, this new ordinance does not have a sunset clause — the tax increase is permanent.
There is still time to stop it. Call your councilor.
HT: Michael Brasher
As much as one doesn’t want to pick on the citizens of the Gulf Coast region, one might think that taxpayers and residents of the area would agree that we don’t want something like Katrina to ever happen again. Unfortunately, it looks like that is what federal taxpayers are in the midst of paying for — rebuilding in flood-prone areas.
Unfortunately, Congress has proven once again to be an inadequate steward of our taxpayer dollars. So, instead of reforms or, better still, the elimination of the National Flood Insurance Program which ultimately creates these perverse incentives, we’ll have aother Katrina-like storm in the future.
Perhaps you may have heard about the recent letter that was signed by some 675 economists who endorse raising the minimum wage from $5.15 an hour to $7.25. It would be nice if Congress could raise the income levels of working Americans with the wave of a legislative wand, but as Steve Chapman points out, these economists — yes, it happens to them too — have fallen prey to a bout of “wishful thinking.”
While New Mexico, because of its relatively high poverty and low wages, will hurt its low-income workers more than most states, the best thing about Congress’s decision not to raise the wage this year is that some states are raising their wages while others are not. Given time, those states that raise their wages the most aggressively will see a negative economic effect while others will escape harm. Allowing states to go their own ways is far better than a one-size-fits-all policy from Washington.
Many of New Mexico’s leading fiscal conservatives were quite upset when, in the 2004 Report Card, the Cato Institute gave Bill Richardson a “B” and called him “an aggressive tax cutter, the best Democratic Governor in the nation bar none,” and “one of the best new governors in the nation.”
Recently, Cato released its 2006 study of governors and, while Richardson only receives a “C,” Cato still lists him as the 9th-best Governor in the nation. What gives? For starters, despite all his shortcomings, Richardson is a net tax cutter based on his income and capital gains tax reductions. With all of the other governors out there raising taxes, Richardson is going to be seen in a favorable light on tax policy.
Spending is something of a different story. According to Cato: “Richardson’s budget proposals have grown faster each year, and the general fund budgets he signed into law between fiscal 2004 and 2006 have grown in total by a whopping 23 percent—almost five percentage points faster than population and inflation.”
We at the Rio Grande Foundation have been saying very much the same thing about Richardson’s spending record. If nothing else, hopefully his desire to play the part of a fiscal conservative and the reduction in oil and gas tax revenues will force Richardson to exert some fiscal restraint rather than raising taxes and further tarnishing his credibility as a “fiscal conservative.”
Often, much is made of America’s “economic competitiveness” with the rest of the world. Thomas Friedman’s book, The World is Flat made a big deal over whether Americans can “compete” in the world economy. Unfortunately, politicians from both the left and the right of the political spectrum too often harp on our “competitiveness” without fully explaining themselves.
Fortunately, that is why we have people like Paul Jacob to explain in just a few hundred words that we are not really competing against the Chinese or the French, rather we are all cooperating through the wonderful capitalist system to raise living standards in all nations that embrace free trade and economic liberty. In other words, rather than worrying aboiut what the Chinese or Indians are doing and whether they’re “catching up” to us, we should celebrate their gains and work to improve our our own country.
Just in time for the upcoming election, the Rio Grande Foundation has put together its own guide to the ballot measures that voters will have the final say on. It is safe to say that the so-called “quality of life” tax hike is not the only vote likely to have a significant impact on taxpayers’ pocket books.
Although it is nice that politicians allow citizens to have the final say over some of these issues, it would be even better if New Mexicans could actually put items like constitutional tax and spending limits on the ballot rather than even more spending as the politicians seem to prefer.
If our ballot guide is not enough for you or you are interested in what voters in other states are voting on — four states will be voting on tax and spending limits — then be sure to check out the ballot guide put together by the National Taxpayaers Union,
Self esteem is a good thing, but it doesn’t help American students with their math problems.
Six percent of Korean eighth-graders in a recent survey expressed confidence in their math skills, compared with 39 percent of U.S. eighth-graders. Yet an international math assessment showed Koreans scoring far ahead of their peers in the United States, “raising questions about the importance of self-esteem,” notes writer Jay Mathews in “For Math Students, Self-Esteem May Not Equal High Scores.”
With New Mexico students trailing behind the rest of the country and the country as a whole trailing behind much of the world, it is clear that big changes are needed here and in the American education system as a whole.