Opinion piece: Basic income worth honest study

The following article appeared in several news outlets including the Las Cruces Sun News on September 28, 2023.

The idea of a “universal basic income” (UBI) has been around a long time. Most supporters are broadly on the left of the political spectrum,  but many conservative thought leaders including Charles Murray as well as Reagan officials like James Baker and George Schultz, have also been willing to consider the idea.

The idea behind UBI is simple: replace welfare payments to the poor with cash payments to empower the poor to manage their government benefits. Welfare programs have a bunch of hoops and phase-outs that can often disincentivize going from welfare to work. One problem with UBI (as other conservatives often point out) is that politicians are unwilling to eliminate the welfare programs and pay them out in a cash equivalent.

Sadly, this has proven out. In recent years there have been experiments, supposedly with UBI concepts, but they never actually result in replacement of welfare with cash. Instead, these approaches simply result in more cash. A 2021 Santa Fe program along those lines suffered the same flaw.

Now, Las Cruces has gotten into the mix. A privately funded guaranteed basic income project allocated 330 families $500 per month and ended in January. Results from the experiment haven’t been analyzed yet. Now, another experiment is going to happen. Thanks to $1.7 million dollars of federal American Rescue Plan Act funding, multiple nonprofits in the Las Cruces community will provide $500 monthly payments over 18 months to 150 eligible Las Cruces families.”

Will the results of these experiments mean anything? Sure, most people, especially those with low incomes, will gladly take an extra $500 annually, but unless the UBI is a replacement as opposed to a supplement for existing welfare programs it will be rather meaningless in terms of broader welfare reform implications.

Mayor Ken Miyagishima, a Democrat, appears to be the only voice of reason in Las Cruces. He voted against the program and said, “I hope it doesn’t just turn into, hey, I got this money, this is great. And okay, it ran out, so what am I going to do now?”

The Mayor elaborated, saying, “We don’t have the money…people need to have an understanding of what it takes to run a government.” “It (money) just doesn’t come out of thin air. The reason why we are seeing a lot of inflation is because the country has printed a lot of money and there’s nothing to back it up.”

Miyagishima is right. And, while New Mexico is currently in the midst of an unprecedented oil boom that has brought in staggering amounts of money, politicians in Washington have driven the nation into debt and the situation shows no sign of improving. While the inflation rate has gone down, that inflation is piled on top of last year’s inflation, so prices continue to rise at a staggering pace that is harming New Mexico families.

Rather than piling on more debt to find ways to add more people to already overburdened welfare rolls the Biden Administration and both parties in Congress should cut spending and work to eliminate the scourge of inflation from our economy. That will do more to get people out of poverty than any half-baked “basic income” scheme, especially one funded by taxpayers.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. 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

💰 Universal Basic Income | Pros and Cons | UBI - YouTube

Important ABQ Journal editorial/opinion piece take on MLG’s EV overreach

Alan LaSeck of the New Mexico Apartments Association penned an excellent opinion piece in the ABQ Journal detailing how the Gov.’s proposed commercial development EV charger mandate will make Albuquerque’s housing crisis even worse than it currently is.

In addition the editorial board weighed in with an excellent editorial further highlighting the issue. New apartments, hotels, motels, vacation timeshare properties, monasteries, and dormitories would be required to install EV chargers for 20% of their parking spaces. In addition, 50% of parking spots would have to have the infrastructure to be EV capable, and 5% would have to be EV ready. No hearings have been scheduled so far regarding this regulation.

On the issue of EV’s, the New Mexico Environment Department and the city of Albuquerque will host an in-person meeting about the Governor’s proposed rules from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m. Oct. 16 in the Community Meeting Room at the International District Library, 7601 Central Ave NE. Those concerned about unfunded mandates and so-called “Environmental Justice Vehicle Values” should attend or send written comments to: https://nmed.commentinput.com/?id=TuMmsArBj

And, as usual cartoonist John Trever has a great commentary:

United stadium lease MUST account for cost overruns

Several articles in the local media have discussed the broad details of a lease agreement between the United soccer team and Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller. The lease is scheduled to to be introduced to the council today and heard on Oct. 16. While we have not seen the lease (yet) there are a few details contained in the article above.

However, the most important question for City Council is potential cost-overruns. Back in April the LFC reported that construction costs had DOUBLED within the past year. In November of 2021 when voters overwhelmingly rejected a taxpayer financed stadium the bond was going to be for $50 million. Estimates at the time were that the stadium would cost between $65 and $70 million in total.

Now, after a doubling of construction costs (according to the LFC) the agreement is for the team to put up $30 million and the City to put up $13.5 million in state capital outlay dollars for a total of $43.5 million?

Either Keller and the team are “low-balling” their cost estimates or promoting a stadium that is so “bare bones” that it won’t be long before the team is asking for new features. WHO PAYS FOR THEM?

City Council MUST clearly spell out in the lease that ANY cost overruns and future additions be paid for by the United.

stadium site map.jpg


LFC report trashes NM film subsidies

The Rio Grande Foundation has long been critical of New Mexico’s film subsidy program, but study after study (at least when they have been objective) have found the film subsidy program to be wasteful and an economic loser.

A brand new report from New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee only further buttresses the Foundation’s arguments. Here are a few items from the report which summarize its findings:

  • Evidence suggests film incentives are less effective at attracting private investment, cost more per job, and have a lower return on investment than other incentive programs.
  • (Film subsidies) cost more than twice as much per job as the other large economic development incentives.
  • Most state evaluations find film incentives have a negative fiscal ROI.
  • In the next five years, film subsidies paid out could grow by 171 percent, increasing from $100.2 million in FY23 to $272.1 million by FY28.

The film program is costly and is the very worst form of corporate welfare. It is great to see the LFC saying what RGF has been arguing for more than a decade.

New report reveals film tax credits might not be the best investment for New  Mexico

Tipping Pooint NM episode 543 Pete Dinelli – Homeless Policy and Issues

On this week’s interview Paul talks to Pete Dinelli. Dinelli has a long track record of public service. He’s an unapologetic progressive Democrat and blogs at: https://www.petedinelli.com/

Paul and Pete discuss homeless policy in Albuquerque and some of the issues surrounding it. They also discuss a lot of data surrounding homelessness and the numerous factors that make homeless policy so difficult to implement successfully.

NM at bottom (and sliding) in SAT test results

According to the education website Schoolaroo New Mexico has achieved yet another unenviable dead-last position in education.

Being in dead-last has become typical under Gov. Lujan Grisham who has pumped money into education while not reforming the system and closing New Mexico schools for over a year during COVID.

What is unknown is how various states administer the test and to whom and how those factors might affect New Mexico scores relative to students in other states.

Perhaps even more concerning is the fact that New Mexico’s applicants have fallen four positions in comparison to the previous year, now ranking at the bottom with a total average score of 953.

Tipping Point episode 542: Education Conference, Shooters Captured, Homeless Ruling, EV Mandate Enforcement and more

Paul is in Savannah, Georgia. He discusses what has brought him there. Paul also recaps the OAKNM education conference which took place on Friday.

The shooters who precipitated MLG’s anti-gun health order were captured. They have (not surprisingly) been involved with the criminal justice system in the past and were not likely to be deterred by MLG’s anti-gun orders.

A MLG-appointed New Mexico district judge rules that the homeless can’t be removed from public spaces.

How will MLG’s potential EV mandate actually be enforced? Paul has a detailed answer.

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland’s daughter has close ties to the Cuban government. This is especially concerning because hostile foreign nations have a long track record of supporting anti-energy forces in the US.

Our op-ed on MLG’s gun order and her long-standing disdain for “democracy” ran statewide. 

Push to force EV charging stations will only increase apartment rental prices

In yet another attempt to “make fetch happen” on EV’s the State of New Mexico’s Construction Industries Division (CID) is considering regulations that would require new construction projects to make between 1% and 20% of their available parking EV-friendly spaces. Since charging stations cost between $7,000 and $18,000 each, that means prices of commercial projects and apartments will be much harder and more expensive to develop.

This is a problem especially since rents have been skyrocketing in Albuquerque and nationwide in recent years. If implemented on apartments the current proposed standards will increase costs by “several hundreds of thousands of dollars per multifamily property.”

According to Alan LaSeck, the executive director of the Apartment Association of New Mexico, “That actually stops properties from being built, or, we increase rent to make up the difference.”

Yet again, New Mexico is pushing EV’s in the name of being “green” while foisting the costs on the rest of us.



Judge rules “homeless” camps can’t be removed from public spaces

Last week a New Mexico district judge ruled that the City of Albuquerque cannot clear “homeless” encampments out of public spaces. The case sprang out of the City’s decision to clear the dangerous and unclean Coronado Park encampment which had become a scene of serious drug trade/usage as well as 5 homicides, numerous assaults, and intensive application of police resources.

But, the ACLU sued and state District Judge Joshua Allison (appointed by Gov. Lujan Grisham in 2019) agreed. We at Rio Grande Foundation have regularly criticized the judiciary for their role in allowing crime to fester out of control. It is not surprising that a liberal MLG-appointed judge would view Coronado Park and other public camping as being okay or that the taxpayers of the City must provide the “homeless” housing in order to prevent them from occupying public spaces.

ABQ mayor to close Coronado Park, uprooting encampment amid housing  shortage - Source New Mexico



How will the State enforce Lujan Grisham’s EV mandates?

With the Environmental Improvement Board starting to hold meetings over plans to force New Mexicans to buy electric vehicles (and regulations already in place to buy smaller numbers of EV’s starting next year) we figured it was worth looking at how these regulations will work. The simple answer is that car dealers have the most to lose as currently written.

So, we asked our friend Todd Myers who works on environmental policy in Washington State which is also foisting such regulations (all based on California’s) on its citizens. The answer is that the system will largely work as a “cap and trade” mechanism.

According to Myers, “When dealers sell EVs (or PHEVs) they generate credits. Those credits count toward their sales targets. Dealers who have more credits can sell them to those who need them. It is just another cap-and-trade system.”

For dealers who cannot make up the difference, they pay a penalty of 4 times the value of a ZEV credit.

Interestingly, the law applies to dealers and not to vehicle registrations. So, if someone went to El Paso to buy a gas-powered vehicle, they could bring it back to the state and register it (at least until the politicians decide to tie vehicle registrations to being electric.”

Here is the whole rule: 1962.4 ZEV Standards 2026+ (ca.gov)