RGF recent radio appearances

This has been a big week for the Rio Grande Foundation on the air. Paul recently sat down with Bob Clark of KKOB 96.3FM. You can find that show here. Bob and Paul discuss numerous topics from the death of Ruth Bader Ginsburg and her legacy as well as well as Paul’s family’s efforts to home school their children.

Paul also sat down with Jim Williams at KNKT Radio 107.1 FM. We discussed numerous issues in their discussion. You can listen to that discussion at the link above or by clicking on the image below.

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Tipping Point NM episode 233: Latest Update on COVID-19 in New Mexico, RBG, unemployment, and more

On this week’s podcast discussion Paul and Wally give the latest update on COVID 19 including information on the Gov.’s latest press conference.

Youth sports can practice, but not play games, overnight camping is available at most state parks in groups of no more than 10, pick-your-own pumpkin patches will be permitted to operate, ice skating rinks may operate for athletic training and practice by reservation only, and swimming pools may open with no more than 10 individuals in a pool at any one time; previously swimming pools were permitted only to provide lane swimming.

Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies. What does that mean? Paul discusses a ruling that included the Justice: Kelo v. New London. A recent ruling by a Trump-appointed judge smacks down Pennsylvania’s COVID lockdown. The conclusion of his decision is amazing.

Movie theaters remain closed; Same with bowling alleys.

New Mexico’s August unemployment rate remains in double digits.

Gun rights ordinances on the agenda at City Council;

Project Labor Agreements on the County’s agenda Tuesday night.

According to a new report, electricity prices jumped 10.1% last year (a prelude to further rate hikes?):

Beleaguered San Juan County raises taxes in order to overcome economic woes.

NM set up a $300 permanent fund for pre-K in the 2020 Legislative session. According to the Santa Fe New Mexican it isn’t growing. Rather than using that money or opening the economy MLG still wants a federal bailout.

Oil production bounced a bit in June, but it is still way down. 

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Liberal Bernalillo County Commission adopts Project Labor Agreement ordinance

Elections have consequences and with a 4-1 Democrat majority on Bernalillo County Commission, we knew that a massive giveaway to the unions that so strongly support the Party would be hard to stop.

Though the County is now facing a $24 million shortfall (just announced in today’s Albuquerque Journal) and the “community workforce agreement” (project labor agreement) ordinance adopted last night by the Commission. This would increase construction costs by an estimated 18%, but the Commission went ahead and adopted the giveaway to the unions and mandated that any construction projects using County money must be carried out with unionized workers.

Of course this will ultimately result in either roads that are in worse condition or higher taxes (or both), but what’s more important for the Commission (minus Lonnie Talbert) is to support the unions that donate to their campaigns.

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City unemployment rates: Comparing New Mexico & neighbors (July 2020 BLS data)

The media report on New Mexico’s unemployment rate which, in August 2020, is 11.3%. But the Bureau of Labor Statistics collects unemployment data for cities in each state. You can access that data for Farmington, NM here. The latest data is for July, not August (as with State data) but we put the data into this useful chart below to illustrate how unemployment rates in New Mexico’s measured cities have changed and how they compare to some big cities in other neighboring states.

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You can go bowling in New Mexico, you just have to join the military first

As Rio Grande Foundation and others have pointed out, New Mexico’s Governor-imposed lockdown is unfair and rather senseless. The Gessing kids LOVE bowling, but under the Gov.’s orders bowling alleys are shut down.

Bowling is one of many healthy forms of exercise available to people young and old. It is also a great social activity and influential books have even been written about it.

Fortunately, at least for some, Lujan Grisham’s authority does not extend to New Mexico’s numerous military installations. So, if you can get on to Kirtland AFB near Albuquerque or White Sands Missile Range, you can enjoy rolling a few frames at the bowling alleys on base (apparently you just have to get on base, but you definitely need military connections to do that).

The situation is similar at New Mexico’s casinos, several of which are open (are located on tribal lands and thus out of the Gov’s jurisdiction) and racinos which are under State control and thus locked down.

Are these sites participating in contact tracing? How many people (if any) have picked up COVID 19 at the casinos and bowling alleys beyond the Gov.’s control? Are New Mexico’s bowling alleys and other entertainment centers truly incapable of operating until there is a vaccine (as the Gov. implied during her September 10 press conference)?

Top 10 Health Benefits of Bowling

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Trump-appointed judge “gets it” while invalidating Pennsylvania lockdown

Judicial opinions are rarely the stuff of inspiring rhetoric, but there are exceptions to every rule. Check out the following from the Trump-appointed federal judge (Stickham) who recently invalidated that State’s lockdown.

You can read the full opinion here, but the conclusion (below) is the most inspiring part and is well-worth the read. Like you, I’m sure the last six or so months have been frustrating and challenging. We only wish more judges (especially here in New Mexico) would do the same.

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Joining other locked down “blue” states NM’s August unemployment rate 11.3%

Despite New Mexico’s advantage provided by national-leading reliance on steady federal dollars, the State’s unemployment rate of 11.3% is among the highest in the nation (6th) with only a handful of other “blue” states that have also seen their economies locked down by their governors.

All of New Mexico’s neighbors have MUCH lower unemployment with the next-highest being Texas at 6.8%. Utah’s rate is 4.1%, about 1/3rd of New Mexico’s.

Lest you think New Mexico’s lockdown has been a “success” in saving lives from the Virus, Arizona and Texas do have higher death rates than New Mexico, but the rates in Colorado, Oklahoma, and Utah are all lower (Oklahoma and Utah significantly so).

Image

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New Report: New Mexico residential electricity rates rose 10.1% over past year


As New Mexico’s Legislature, Gov., and PRC push forward to implement New Mexico’s “Green New Deal” Energy Transition Act, a new report from SaveOnEnergy.com shows that New Mexico electricity users saw a 10.1% increase in electricity rates over the past year. That is the 2nd-biggest increase among US states and seems inevitably tied to the State’s looming transition to “renewables.”

At this link you can see more data (such as that New Mexico’s 13.8 cents/kWh rate is the highest among its neighbors.

Is the 10.1% increase in electricity rates a sign of things to come? Will we soon join California with rates hovering near 20 cents/kWh (not to mention poor reliability)? We certainly believe it is possible.


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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 232: Rob Nikolewski – California Fires and Energy Policy

On this week’s interview, Paul talks to Rob Nikolewski. A few years back Rob worked for Rio Grande Foundation as a reporter in Santa Fe. Now, he reports on energy for the San Diego Union-TribuneRob and Paul discuss the ongoing wildfires in California, the electrical grid, the shutdown of nuclear energy there, and the challenges of eliminating CO2 emissions from the State’s electrical grid.

You don’t want to miss this timely and informative podcast!

Rob Nikolewski - The San Diego Union-Tribune

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San Juan County attempts to overcome economic woes…by raising taxes

At the Rio Grande Foundation we have covered the economic challenges faced by the Four Corners region and San Juan County. Primarily this involves the long term decline in natural gas prices combined with the closure of the region’s coal-fired power plants. 

Due in part to these economic challenges, tax revenues at San Juan County are down significantly and the County faced a $4.6 million gap next fiscal year. So, the County Commission just voted to raise taxes (1/8th cent on the GRT).

This isn’t a long-term solution. The Four Corners area needs some good economic news, but when two of your largest job-creating industries face extinction options are limited. We have consistently urged change in the Legislature and approaches by our State to bring more economic freedom to the State as a whole with benefits accruing to the Four Corners and every other part of New Mexico. Unfortunately, COVID 19 and the Gov.’s intense lockdown has caused the State’s unemployment rate to jump dramatically with Farmington’s rate even higher at 16 percent.

Unless something dramatic happens in Santa Fe this fall there don’t seem to be many bright spots on the Four Corners’ economic horizon.

 

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