In judging the recently-concluded 2011 legislative session, many policies were considered. The Rio Grande Foundation played a major role in setting the agenda in terms of education reform, the budget debate, government employee pension reform, and in expanding government transparency.
Unfortunately, two of the three education reforms promoted by Gov. Martinez failed: only A-F grading of schools passed. Notably, Martinez was only promoting a portion of the whole Florida model — virtual schools and dramatically-expanded school choice were not part of her initial efforts this year.
In terms of the budget, it must be noted that NO TAXES WERE RAISED. This is very important. In terms of budget fixes, we had proposed capping the film subsidy at $30 million and it wound up at $50 million. Not too shabby. Rather than some of the deeper and more substantive cuts we’d outlined elsewhere in our budget cut proposal, more moderate efforts were undertaken. In a big disappointment, the Legislature chose to continue over-paying for public works projects by not returning to the previous manner of determining wages on public works projects.
Pensions were addressed somewhat, but far more needs to be done in this regard.
Transparency will move forward based on bills that passed this session. New Mexico schools will be added to the Sunshine Portal and governments will also be expected to release information they possess in electronic format in that format upon request. These are positive steps.
Overall, the biggest disappointments were the failure to really embrace the education reforms and return to a more rational system of wage rules for government projects, but several steps were taken towards liberty this year.