New report: New Mexico is #1 “Economically-failing state” (neighboring Utah named #1 thriving state)

The following is from GOBankingRates as reported on Yahoo News here. 

GOBankingRates took a look at a variety of economic factors, from year-over-year GDP and unemployment rates to wage changes and the percentage of a state’s population that is living in poverty. States were divided into the top 15 and the bottom 15 and ranked in reverse order. Thus, the state in the worst current economic shape appears as No. 1 at the end of the “failing economies” section, while the only state in the nation thus far that shows a year-over-year percentage gain in employment appears as No. 1 under the “thriving economies” section.

New Mexico is the Number 1 “failing” economy while neighboring Utah is the Number 1 “thriving” economy. The power of public policy.

Tipping Point NM episode 321: Failing Education System, Back to School Rules, Soccer Stadium and more

On this week’s podcast discussion, Paul and Wally discuss the Gov.’s new “back to school” policies including mask requirements for elementary students/teachers and vaccine verification for junior high and high school students.

Last week was a very busy media week for RGF. It included a conversation with Fox Business Channel on film subsidies, Paul in the ABQ Journal discussing how Sen. Martin Heinrich is coming for your natural gas appliances, Patrick Brenner discusses Richard Branson abuse of New Mexico taxpayers in The Federalist.

One radical environmentalist NM Senator Soules is a big hypocrite when it comes to private jets.

“Shockingly” New Mexico’s education system has failed to improve under the Yazzie lawsuit. Paul discusses how Regis Pecos was one of Speaker Lujan’s top advisors but when we came to him with education reforms he didn’t do anything.

Mayor Keller plans to force taxpayers to pay $65 to $70 million for a stadium for the United soccer team and that doesn’t include land acquisition or cost overruns. 

Journal cartoon “nails” a lot about NM politics. Paul explains.  

Democrat legislators admit New Mexico schools are failing & more money hasn’t helped

While the Rio Grande Foundation continues to monitor the rapidly-unfolding situation regarding school reopening and COVID 19 policy, the broader issues within New Mexico’s education system made headlines recently. We wanted to make sure to highlight them.

Recent interim testimony involving the Yazzie case by a prominent Native American leader led to some seeming realizations among New Mexico legislators that the government schools we spend so much money on are failing. Here are a few quotes:

Rep. Derrick Lente, D-Sandia Pueblo, “Native American children have been left to rot because of where they come from” for many years.”

“How much longer do our children have to fail for us to get this right?” Lente asked.

Rep. Javier Martinez, D-Albuquerque said he had “started to question whether more money is actually needed beyond what we’ve invested.”

“I think we’re losing steam,” Martinez said, “I’d hate to be back here in 20 years talking about how nothing has changed.”

Back in 2017, the Rio Grande Foundation argued publicly that more money (thanks to the lawsuit) was not going to “move the needle” on K-12 results. It looks like several “progressive” legislators are at least coming to realize that.

Unfortunately, unions are some of the biggest contributors to Democrats’ elections. So, while they MAY say some reform-minded things for public consumption, we haven’t seen them even contemplate serious education reform for more than a decade and the failure of additional money to improve New Mexico’s poor education results is unlikely to move the needle toward actual reform in the Legislature. We will work as hard as we can to put reform on the agenda nonetheless.

Can't You Take A Hint


The COVID situation is hardly a “crisis”: MLG expected to make “back to school” decision this week: UPDATED

According to numerous news reports Anthony Fauci and the Biden Administration are considering reimposing mask mandates to include vaccinated Americans.

Meanwhile, Gov. Lujan Grisham is expected to reveal her Administration’s plans for back to school including masking or not-masking of kids in classrooms and outdoors. This should happen in a matter of days. New Mexico is one of 7 states in the nation with a statewide mask mandate in place for children and interested observers expect Gov. Lujan Grisham to continue with strict policies.

But, there is NO CRISIS when it comes to COVID deaths in the US as the following chart from Word O Meters makes clear:Kids are hardly vulnerable to COVID and there are questions over whether giving the vaccine (if/when approved) to kids under the age of 12 is safer than possible exposure to COVID.

Notably, 90% of people 65 and older are vaccinated.  That group has been far and away the most vulnerable to the Virus.

Many New Mexicans, especially those concerned about the impact of indefinite and unnecessary masking of our kids, are protesting throughout the State on Saturday according to John Block of Piñon Post.

On Saturday, July 31, citizens are organizing protests against school mask policies statewide, from Albuquerque to Carlsbad. So far, seven cities are participating, but the list of areas joining in the effort is expected to grow.

  • ALBUQUERQUE – 10am – 1005 Osuna, Vista del Norte Park – Contact Erin at or Karen at
  • ARTESIA – 10am – corner of Main & 7th – Contact Stacey at 575-343-1234
  • CARLSBAD – 1pm – Eddy County Courthouse Lawn – Contact Christy Bryant at 575-361-7779
  • FARMINGTON – 10am – Main Street, Grassy Area in Front of Applebee’s, Near the Mall– Contact Lorna at 480-589-3856
  • LAS CRUCES – 10am – Albert Johnson Park on corner of Main and Picacho – Contact Daniel at
  • RIO RANCHO – 10am – Corner of Southern and 528
  • SANTA FE – 10:30am – Salvador Perez Train Park at 601 Alta Vista – Contact Kristi at 505-204-8261 or

UPDATES: In less than 24 hours since this post was made, the Lujan Grisham Administration released its “back to school” rules for COVID in New Mexico schools, including private ones.

And, while the CDC hasn’t acted yet, widespread media reports indicate that the CDC will recommend that EVERYONE in K-12 schools wear a mask.

New Mexico politics summed up in one handy Trever cartoon

To say that we’re fans of Albuquerque Journal editorial cartoonist John Trever may be a bit of an understatement. But the Sunday cartoon (below) is particularly genius because of its multiple meanings about the way New Mexico politics and policies work.

  1. Private success vs. Public sector failure: While we have certainly criticized Bill Richardson’s decision to build a $200+ million Spaceport for Richard Branson, in the bigger picture both Bransons’ and Bezos’ successes are achievements for the private space industry. New Mexico’s schools are overwhelmingly government-run and funded. It would be nice if those who are rightly frustrated by the failures of this system would join us in focusing their efforts on bringing private sector competition and competence to bear on the difficult challenge of improving literacy in NM.
  2. A SECOND interpretation of the cartoon is yet another common theme of New Mexico government. Rather than doing the basics (like education) well, elected officials prefer to pursue expensive, high profile projects that really aren’t appropriate functions of government. The Spaceport is one such example, but Mayor Keller’s plans to build a new soccer stadium (with a starting price tag of at least $65-$70 million just to build, let alone property acquisition and inevitable cost-overruns) is another. Again, crime and public safety are crises demanding resources and attention, but Keller would rather build a stadium instead.

The environmental hypocrisy of one of New Mexico’s top Democrats

Las Cruces state Senator Bill Soules paints himself as a radical supporter of the environment. In 2021 Soules introduced a proposal to eliminate ALL nuclear energy, coal- or gas-fired energy production within New Mexico. He also tried to force the State to purchase 75% electric vehicles. 

But Soules seems to set aside his environmental stance as long as the issue involves New Mexico’s Spaceport. Set aside the use of fossil fuels for Richard Branson to GET to space which involves the use of large quantities of CO2 emitting rocket fuel.

The folks attending Branson’s launch (and those likely to travel to isolated Upham, New Mexico for future launches) won’t travel by car, they’ll fly on private jets. According to a report from the UK, Private jets: can the super-rich supercharge zero emission aviation?  a four-hour private flight emits as much as the average person does in a year.

See Sen. Soules’ post-launch Twitter post (with “glowing” commentary on the number of private jets) below:

RGF talks New Mexico Film subsidies on Fox Business Channel

The good news is that Fox Business Channel (unlike many news outlets) actually gave a platform to critics of New Mexico’s film subsidy program to discuss the program’s financial shortcomings.

The bad news is that like nearly all media outlets they badly misunderstand the financial implications of New Mexico’s incredibly-generous film subsidy program. Check out the story below which includes a brief clip of RGF president Paul Gessing discussing Hollywood film subsidies. Below that is a page from a 2019 Legislative Finance Committee report on the cost of Hollywood subsidies which provides details on the direct subsidies (not additional LEDA funds which are yet another subsidy).

In 2019 changes were enacted to New Mexico’s film program that made New Mexico’s already-generous subsidies even MORE generous. Here’s the LFC’s take on the financial implications. 

Heinrich coming for your gas heater, stove

The following appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on July 21, 2021. While the newspaper cannot include hyperlinks to the data used in the piece we have added those links here:

Natural gas is a clean and affordable fuel they use to cook, heat their water, and provide warmth in the winter. Millions of Americans appreciate its benefits, even if they don’t think about them.

Just because you don’t think about natural gas doesn’t mean radical environmentalists (including New Mexico’s senior US Senator Martin Heinrich) aren’t. Heinrich recently wrote in the New York Times that “working to electrify our vehicles, homes and businesses is a critical part of achieving economywide net-zero emissions.”

He’s pushing legislation in Congress and for funding in the “infrastructure” bill for “electrification” – which is really another way of saying phasing out or banning your natural gas stove, oven, and furnace and requiring you to use electric heat and stoves.

Sacramento recently became the 46th US city to begin “phasing out natural gas in new buildings.” It’s not just happening in California. According to the Wall Street Journal, “Seattle, Denver and New York have all either enacted or proposed measures to ban or discourage the use of the fossil fuel in new homes and buildings.”

Just a decade or so ago the Sierra Club and other environmental groups supported natural gas as a cleaner-burning alternative to coal. Now, Senator Heinrich – counter to the economic interests of the state he represents (New Mexico is a major natural gas producer) and against the expressed preferences of consumers who use such appliances – is pushing to eliminate natural gas.

The push for a natural gas ban is premised on the idea that we should replace fossil fuels with wind and solar technologies that put us on a path to “net-zero emissions.” Of course, we’re not just talking about replacing all existing electricity generation; just 10% of current electricity production comes from wind, solar, and geothermal combined. Experts say “electrification” would increase US electricity consumption by 40 percent.

To say the least, Sen. Heinrich’s “electrification” scheme will require astonishing amounts of new electricity generation (at great economic cost) not to mention batteries to ensure reliability and new transmission lines to distribute it. We’ll be the ones paying for all that new redundant generation.

It’s an even bigger problem considering the reliability and demand issues already facing the Western United States this summer and utilities’ (including PNM’s) difficulty bringing new “renewables” online.  

And then there are consumer preferences for natural gas, which for some reason get casually ignored. You will have to search far and wide to find an electric stove in your favorite restaurant. That’s because natural gas is superior to electricity for cooking on both food quality and price.  Banning natural gas in restaurants means you would be waiting longer for your favorite meal while also paying more.

Any serious push for “electrification” of our economy will require massive government subsidies (thus Heinrich’s push in the current “infrastructure” bill), with electricity reliability already an issue the reliability of natural gas can be a literal lifesaver.

We all want clean, affordable, and reliable energy. Natural gas provides all three. And while the US has been steadily-reducing CO2 emissions for over a decade, China now emits more CO2 than the rest of the developed world combined (that includes the US, Canada, Europe, and Australia). Sen. Heinrich’s forced-shift to all-electric in the US will be costly and won’t achieve the environmental gains he seeks.

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.