Some quick facts before the 2021 legislative session kicks off

As the first-ever “virtual” New Mexico legislative session kicks off we believe it is important for New Mexico policymakers to have some basic information about New Mexico’s economy.

  1. New Mexico tax burdens are not low relative to neighboring states. The chart below is from the Federation of Tax Administrators. With far heavier tax burdens than its neighbors, New Mexico’s tax burden ranks 7th-heaviest among states.

2. According to the website US Government Spending state and local spending in New Mexico is far higher than in neighboring states as a percentage of the state economy (GDP).  The data are constantly being updated, but New Mexico consistently has the biggest-spending state and local governments in the US.

3. When it comes to raising the minimum wage, mandatory paid sick leave, or a variety of other economic policies, New Mexico lags dramatically. The data in the Fraser Institute analysis below is from 2018 which is the final year of Susana Martinez’ time in office. New Mexico desperately needs MORE economic freedom, not less.

4.. We already know New Mexico is among the poorest states in the US. If the Legislature is serious about reducing poverty and improving outcomes for children and the rest of the population (regardless of race or gender) it needs to have a serious conversation about economic freedom issues. like taxes and regulations. 

 

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Tipping Point New Mexico episode 266: Kathleen Sgamma – Interior Department Impacts to Oil and Gas

On this week’s podcast, Paul talks to Kathleen Sgamma. Kathleen is President of the Western Energy Alliance which describes itself as The Voice of Energy in the West.

They discuss Biden’s energy policies and their potential impact on New Mexico and its economy as well as New Mexico Congresswoman Deb Haaland’s likely impacts at the Department of Interior and the likelihood of a federal ban on fracking or oil and gas permitting on federal lands, including Native lands. Don’t miss this critical conversation!

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New Mexico shines nationally by eliminating “Policing for Profit”

It is almost a truism that New Mexico tends to be “high on all the bad lists and low on all the good ones.” On one major issue that is certainly not the case: policing for profit. Others know it as Civil Asset Forfeiture. The practice was banned in 2015 in New Mexico thanks to a bipartisan coalition that included the Rio Grande Foundation and the Institute for Justice (a national, libertarian, public interest law firm).

The group recently published its 3rd “Policing for Profit” report which ranks New Mexico as THE ONLY “A” rated state in the nation. Check out their video below which

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RGF weighs in on Biden’s environmental policies in ABQ Journal

Recently (Monday the 11th of January) the Albuquerque Journal undertook an in-depth discussion of Joe Biden’s planned energy policies and their impact on New Mexico. Reading through the articles there are a lot of promises about how Biden will make the world cleaner and greener with zero negative repercussions for our economy or the environment.

In one article former Obama Administration staffer and current State Rep. Melanie Stansbury argues, “Our entire dependence on carbon needs to be altered across the board, not just in electric generation, but in transportation and industry in general,” Stansbury said. “We need comprehensive action against our climate footprint.”

Gessing simply notes that a proposed ban on oil and gas drilling (or fracking) on federal lands would be devastating to New Mexico’s economy.

The article is full of assertions from environmental activists that “green” energy will both save the planet AND save money.

In a second article, broadly on the same topic, the quote is as follows,

Paul Gessing, president of the conservative Rio Grande Foundation, said renewables won’t replace the extensive employment offered by the traditional energy industry, nor will they provide enough state revenue to offset the wealth generated by fossil fuels.

“I don’t think green energy will produce a real boom for New Mexico, nor for the nation,” Gessing told the Journal. “I’m very concerned about our financial future. We’re racing full bore into wind and solar with government subsidies and mandates, and I don’t believe that’s a net winner for the state.”

While we always appreciate being asked to discuss important issues with the media, it is interesting that WE are the ones labeled “conservative.” Politicians and environmental groups receive massive donations that dwarf not just OUR meager budget, but those of the big “conservative” and libertarian groups like Heritage, Cato, or AEI. A few of the largest environmental groups are listed below along with their budgets and staff sizes.

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Tipping Point New Mexico episode 265: Perspectives on Trump Legacy and Riots at U.S. Capitol and more

The events of this past week were unprecedented in American history. On this week’s podcast, Paul and Wally share their perspectives on the riot at the US Capitol and Trump’s legacy more broadly. Then, Wally and Paul address the political repercussions of this event which will be extremely problematic for conservatives nationwide, let alone here in New Mexico. One of the earliest developments involves a clampdown on conservatives on social media.

Before last week went completely off the rails Paul and Wally made some predictions regarding the results of the Georgia Senate Races. They discuss the results of those predictions.

RGF had an op-ed in the ABQ Journal over the weekend.

Despite all the doom and gloom predictions about the Trump presidency (not to mention a growing population and economy), US CO2 emissions haven’t been this low since the early 1980s.

United Van Lines’ annual report detailing which states people moved to and from during 2020 is out. What does it mean for New Mexico?

 

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RGF has been concerned about online free speech (and is doing something about it)

Like nearly all Americans, we at the Rio Grande Foundation were horrified by the recent events at the US Capitol building. We have been further devastated by the clampdown on online speech (mostly among right-leaning people) involving big tech companies.

Everyone from President Trump to former Congressman Ron Paul has faced repercussions including outright bans from social media companies while the conservative social media firm Parler was “de-platformed” by Amazon.

This form of censorship is very concerning. And, while the Rio Grande Foundation primarily sticks to state and local issues here in New Mexico, the threat of internet is of critical concern to us. Thus, for over a year we have been a part of the Free Speech Alliance which was created by the Media Research Center.

The Alliance’s Mission is as follows:

The Free Speech Alliance is made up of more than 70 organizations and individuals who oppose the silencing of conservative voices on social media. Members of the Free Speech Alliance are not affiliated with MRC and the MRC does not endorse any of the positions or opinions of the other members of the FSA.

 

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ABQ Journal op-ed: Politicians are creating hole in center of ABQ

Anyone who has lived in or even visited Albuquerque as a young person has visited Cliff’s Amusement Park. Once upon a time it was “Uncle Cliff’s.” The place has been a local fixture for more than six decades.

It is also in danger thanks to the mismanagement of our state, most notably by our governor during the COVID 19 situation, but Cliff’s also faces longer-term problems thanks to the anti-business attitudes of increasing numbers of state and local politicians.

Policymakers seem bound and determined to force Cliff’s Amusement Park out of business, thus destroying a place that holds cherished memories for generations of New Mexicans.

Most pressing is the dire need for the park to simply reopen. Thanks to Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s orders, 2020 was the first time the park did not open for an entire season. Forty-six of the 50 states have allowed amusement parks to open. Not New Mexico.

Yet for locked down businesses like Cliff’s, costs continue to mount. Cliff’s sits on prime Albuquerque real estate between San Mateo and I-25. Property taxes and maintenance bills continue to mount even if revenues dry up.

Despite a national plan presented to the governor under which the park could open safely, they were prohibited from doing so. Disney World and all of Disney’s properties in Orlando have been safely operating for months, as have various Universal Studios properties. Ohio’s Kings Island and Cedar Point parks both opened this past summer as did parks in numerous states throughout the nation.

A few months ago, my family visited the Great Wolf Lodge in Scottsdale. The park has a near-exact replica of the water area found at Cliff’s, but bigger and indoors. Again, as with the amusement parks that have opened, there have been no reports of COVID-19 outbreaks at these facilities. My family included.

There is no use worrying about 2020, but Cliff’s typically opens in April and that is not far off for a park that hires hundreds of local teenagers on a seasonal basis every year and had to lay off 20 full-time employees last year.

In October, Gary Hays, the head of Cliff’s, told KOAT, “I honestly don’t know if we can survive without opening up (next year).” And, unless something changes – and soon – it would seem that Cliff’s and numerous other entertainment venues, including the Albuquerque Isotopes, will remain closed for the foreseeable future, possibly permanently.

Under the governor’s red, yellow, green rubric, Cliff’s and other entertainment venues won’t be able to open even when their respective county gets into the green zone. Currently, every county in the state but sparsely-populated Catron is in the red.

And that’s not all, even if the governor were to come to her senses and allow Cliff’s and other recreational facilities to open tomorrow, the policies being imposed in Albuquerque and Santa Fe are causing businesses like Cliff’s to suffer “death by a thousand cuts.”

Mandatory paid sick leave, which has been repeatedly rejected at the city level, will now be considered in the Legislature. The state’s minimum wage just rose from $9.00 to $10.50 an hour and is on its way to $12.00 an hour in a few years. There is serious talk of further increasing the minimum wage again this session.

Cliffs’ workforce consists of 98% teenagers. They are the state’s largest employer of young people and – not surprisingly – have been hit especially hard by the pandemic and economic shutdowns. Even if the park opens on time and as usual this spring, the hostile policy climate is making business for Cliff’s and other small businesses more difficult each year.

Do we really want a Cliff’s-sized hole in the middle of Albuquerque? If the park closes, the prime real estate will be filled by warehouses or fast food joints, but an unfillable hole will remain for this and future generations of New Mexico youth.

The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.

Cliff's Amusement Park review (Albuquerque NM) - YouTube

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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 264: Sandoval County Commissioner Dave Heil

On this week’s podcast, Paul sits down with Sandoval County Commissioner Dave Heil.

Commissioner Heil and Paul discuss Sandoval County’s unique status as a relatively conservative area in New Mexico’s Rio Grande Corridor. What does the County do differently to make it more business-friendly than its neighbors? They further discuss the size and growth of the County and why it is such a popular destination within New Mexico.
Finally, Paul and Commissioner Heil discuss his County’s opposition to the proposed New Mexico Civil Rights Act. 

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