To paraphrase Shakespeare “Something is rotten in the State of New Mexico.” What’s rotten? One thing is our governments’ misguided ways of generating (or stifling as is more often the case) economic development. In this blog, I’m going to concentrate on a few such efforts in the southern region of the state. First, I wrote about the Doña Ana County Commission’s denial of a meat packing plant’s desire to set up shop and create 55 new jobs (subsidy-free). Heaven forbid someone try to actually build a factory and create jobs WITHOUT suckling from the government teat!
So, that leads me to the Doña Ana County Commission’s decision to look for $500,000 in state incentives to help finance a factory that produces components for large windmills. Sure, $500,000 is not that much within the overall $5 billion-plus state budget, but if you haven’t noticed, we are considering both cuts and tax hikes right now. Hardly seems like the time to be spending taxpayer dollars to finance a private business. Couldn’t we just give this factory some tax breaks rather than actual taxpayer handouts or are these subsidies ON TOP OF these tax exemptions?
To tie the bow on on this sorry package, I submit the example of the Spaceport. While this project edges a bit closer to reality, less-publicized is the fact that New Mexico taxpayers are not done paying for the Spaceport. In fact, it recently came to light that taxpayers will need to pony up another $7.5 million to build a road for the express benefit of the Spaceport. The project is already costing taxpayers $225 million.
The point is that projects that require government subsidies are not economically viable without those subsidies. New Mexico has built much of its economy around attracting those industries that demand subsidies while killing off those (like oil and gas and other forms of mining) that require no subsidies. This is not a model that has worked and this philosophy is a significant reason for New Mexico’s lagging economy. Unfortunately, despite tough economic times, it seems that policymakers have no desire to focus on building an economic base for New Mexico that makes sense and doesn’t demand taxpayer handouts.