With the economic challenge facing New Mexico in this crisis, here are a few small ideas for getting back to work and prioritizing what matters in these challenging times. The Rio Grande Foundation produced its original list of specific ideas and then reached out to the public online for additional ideas.
The full list which is being sent to Gov. Lujan Grisham is below.
- Waive increases in unemployment insurance costs under the State’s formula. Consider rescinding the 4% raise given to public employees and used for that purpose.
- Request a Section 1135 Medicaid waiver to eliminate burdensome rules with regard to Medicaid (Florida was just approved fort the first one in this emergency);
- Allow full licensing reciprocity for qualified medical personnel from other states;
- Relax occupational licensing rules and regulations so people can work. Giving haircuts in your home for money shouldn’t be a crime;
- Suspend business licensing rules that interfere with solo or very small startups;
- Re-purpose money from film subsidies (the industry, like most, has shut down in the State for now) and Rail Runner operations (the train is shut down as well) to health related initiatives;
- Give state tax breaks to businesses that are able to continue to pay employees through shutdowns;
- Instead of landlords shouldering the burden of unpaid rent, let the tenants pay with a form that provides the necessary documentation then allow the landlord to fully deduct that amount from his/her property taxes in the future. Government could even reimburse directly then deal with the back payments itself if it requires back payments.
- Delay collection of property taxes since many are going to lose jobs or lose salaries for awhile.
- Facilitate the transfer of workers being laid of from restaurants to be transferred, temporarily, to help out the food chain, like grocery stores stocking shelves, and unloading trucks for example. The State could facilitate with leaders in the food sector to make it happen and to compensate for wage differences.
- State government should place a moratorium on any new State regulations at least for the duration of the crisis.
- The governor, should immediately eliminate the SS tax on seniors
- Businesses which have been forced to close should not be required to pay ANY expenses including loan payments, utilities, rent and vendor invoices. Those payments should be absorbed by the state. The Land Grant Permanent Fund should be considered as a means of helping the State “backstop” these efforts.
- Schools are closed for at least three weeks and may be closed for the rest of the school season. Funds devoted to that period of time should be diverted to relieve businesses that have been shut down by the State.
- The Gov. and PED should work with virtual education providers to increase and improve education options for students in traditional public schools.
- With the Four Corners already struggling and natural gas prices (a main economic driver of the area falling from already-depressed levels) the State of New Mexico must give Enchant Energy a chance to see if its carbon sequestration plans to keep San Juan Generating Station open (and people working at the Plant and mine) will work.
- The Rail Runner is shut down. Now is the time to consider whether continuing this money-losing service is necessary.