Time to take a hard look at police AND teacher unions

Among the calls for racial unity and reform in the wake of the death of George Floyd there have been serious conversations on the left for what seems like the first time regarding police unions. Free marketeers (especially more libertarian types among them) have long advocated for reform or abolition of police unions and those calls have grown stronger as well. 

We applaud New Mexico Rep. Javier Martinez and any other political leader of any party who is willing to seriously explore reforms to government unions that operate under a monopoly and often with little to no accountability.

Of course, as the following shows police unions and teacher unions operate in similar ways and conditions. Notably, the negative impacts of both police and teacher unions have disproportionate negative impacts in and on impoverished and communities of color.

New Mexico’s Democratic leaders MAY be willing to discuss police unions and that is a welcome development. There is practically zero interest in addressing teachers’ unions, however.


Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 202: Protests and Riots in Albuquerque, COVID-19, SpaceX, Amazon, and More

On this week’s podcast discussion Paul and Wally discuss the George Floyd protests/riots in Albuquerque and around the nation.

The protests are happening in the shadow of COVID 19 with businesses having been shut down for several months. There are so many issues going on, but are cities as we know them dead?

SpaceX launches the first American manned space flight in nearly a decade to the International Space Station. This is a big day for privatized space flight and just in general good news for the country.

Gov. starts opening New Mexico a bit further. Paul and Wally discuss the details.

Primary election Tuesday. RGF got dragged into a SE NM primary. Paul and Wally discuss what is happening this primary election day.

Finally, online sales giant Amazon.com comes to NM. Paul and Wally share a few thoughts on this momentous occasion.

Three takeaways from last night’s earthquake in New Mexico’s Legislature

There were a lot of important races in New Mexico’s primaries last night, but the Rio Grande Foundation focuses on the Legislature (the main policymaking arm of New Mexico) and this post is going to focus on what happened in those races last night.

      1. New Mexico’s “moderate” senators took it on the chin. John Arthur Smith was the most notable defeat which will have profound impacts on New Mexico’s fiscal future, but Clemente Sanchez and Mary Kay Papen were also taken down. The defeat of Smith means that come 2021 (barring a massive Republican upsurge in November) there will be little opposition to “progressive” efforts to tap the permanent fund at least in the Legislature. Gov. Lujan Grisham has already made tapping New Mexico’s permanent funds the centerpiece of her economic strategy. Her path to do that just got MUCH easier.
      2. From a fiscal conservative perspective, while Smith has done a lot of good for New Mexico there’s also no concern that he allowed spending to grow out of control on his watch. He’s allowed millions to be paid out in film subsidies and has generally been unable to do much to reform New Mexico’s broken tax code, economic incentives, or budget processes besides block attacks on the Land Grant Permanent Fund.
      3. With Smith gone the GOP (especially the Senate) will need to provide an ideological alternative as opposed to operating as a support structure for Democrats like John Arthur Smith. While there is no question that Smith is better than the progressive alternative on policy his presence also neutered many in the Senate GOP. Two additions to the Senate who defeated incumbent Republicans last night (Gregg Schmedes and David Gallegos) will hopefully provide a stronger “loyal opposition” in the Senate than has existed in the past, but the Senate is still likely to be a heavily-Democratic controlled body next year and those Democrats just became a lot more “progressive.”

Understanding the Rio Grande Foundation

The Rio Grande Foundation often comes under criticism from the left. But sometimes we come under fire from the right as well.

For starters we are designated as 501c3 “education and research” think tank. We don’t make endorsements and we don’t “carry water” for any political party or politician. Various media outlets have called us libertarian, conservative, and free market. We call ourselves “free market,” but we don’t waste our breath and time arguing the finer points of ideology because we believe that our work is self-explanatory.

For starters, New Mexico is a deeply challenged state. We believe that a vast majority of these issues are self-inflicted. New Mexico lacks economic freedom and remains poorer and less well educated than our neighbors. We also spend a VAST majority of our time focused on state and local issues as opposed to federal ones.

Those issues broadly include:

  1. Size of Government: New Mexico has long been a state driven by government. Data show that state/local spending is too high and that government regulations make doing business in New Mexico less attractive than doing business elsewhere. We’ve worked on this issue from all angles including: all forms of taxation, subsidies and corporate welfare (notably film subsidies), but also LEDA, JTIP, and “green” subsidies.
  2. Regulation: Rio Grande Foundation has led the charge for “right to work” repeal of NM’s”Davis-Bacon” law, reform of government employee pensions, and against numerous “nanny state” regulations like plastic bag bans. We have also done extensive work against “green” programs from the Energy Transition Act to costly “green” building codes.
  3.   School Choice/Education Reform: Across the political spectrum New Mexicans agree that our K-12 system is failing. While politicians of both parties typically opt for some combination of more money, more time in school (pre-K), and some form of top-down accountability, the Rio Grande Foundation believes that parents and (to an extent students themselves) are better able to decide on the educational options that appeal to them. Charter schools are a good start and should be expanded, but more options are needed.

Additionally, the Rio Grande Foundation supports the US and New Mexico Constitutions, we stand up for free speech, gun rights, private property, and open government.

We don’t take on immigration, gay rights, or abortion issues.

So, there you have it. We at the Rio Grande Foundation have our plates very full, but we are making a difference in New Mexico every day. If that appeals to you, please consider making a tax-deductible donation today!

Thoughts on Amazon coming to New Mexico

Just under a year ago the Rio Grande Foundation wondered if/when the online retailing giant Amazon.com would have a warehouse presence in New Mexico.

Recently, of course, it was announced that Amazon would indeed be building a distribution center in Albuquerque and creating 1,000 or so jobs. Better still, so far as we know, while Bernalillo County is spending $6 million on infrastructure and utilities, no major subsidies were required to bring Amazon here.  This is pretty much ALL good news for the local economy.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • Contrary to some on the left (see Tweet below), the issue of Internet sales taxes didn’t play a role in Amazon’s decision. They are a big company with lots of physical locations nationwide and actually lobbied FOR Internet taxation.  It is actually small businesses with one physical location that are most impacted by Internet taxes.


  • Recent changes to interpretations made by the US Supreme Court companies doing business online like Amazon only had to collect taxes on Internet sales if they had a physical presence. A few years that changed and New Mexico like many other states could collect sales taxes without a physical presence.
  • While Amazon coming to town is good news for the local/State economy the overall economy is what matters, not the comings and goings of individual businesses. Rockwell just left. Amazon just came. There are many other businesses opening and closing every day. New Mexico remains relatively unfriendly to business and unless some needed policy reforms are enacted, that isn’t going to change.

RGF dragged into primary battle between Senate District Primary Between Gallegos and Fulfer

There are a few intense battles in New Mexico going on among GOP candidates for Senate seats. We’ve weighed in on the race for Jim White’s seat, but Rep. David Gallegos is challenging Sen. Gregg Fulfer for his SE-New Mexico Senate seat and our Freedom Index has been used quite a bit.

In a debate posted here on Facebook (go to nearly the end at 1 hour 57 minutes) the Rio Grande Foundation and its Freedom Index became an issue. You can check the add run by the Gallegos campaign below which uses an accurate interpretation of our “Freedom Index” vote tracking system.

While RGF never attacked Fulfer, his statements regarding the Rio Grande Foundation expose his basic misunderstanding of our “libertarian” limited government, free market philosophy.

He implies that the Rio Grande Foundation rejects that our nation was founded on biblical principles, claims that we support legalizing “all” drugs, and claims we support allowing transgender boys into girls’ bathrooms and for them to compete against girls in sports.

Simply put, none of these statements are true.

The Rio Grande Foundation is a think tank. We work on economic and education policy issues to restore choice and personal responsibility. We HAVE endorsed the idea of marijuana legalization (based on criminal justice, personal freedom, and economic issues) but RGF has never endorsed legalization of ALL drugs.

We have Freedom Index data going back to 2015 (go to our webpage and look for the Freedom Index Link). Fulfer has been in the Legislature since 2019. He’s voted as moderate Republican during that time period. Gallegos, on the other hand, is a conservative within the Republican caucus in the House which is more conservative than the Senate GOP.

Whether the voters or candidates agree with the Rio Grande Foundation’s take on the issues is up for them to decide, but it is important to clear the air when the Foundation is accused of taking positions on issues it simply hasn’t taken.

Gov. Lujan Grisham moves towards opening, bars unnecessarily discriminated against

On June 1 New Mexico will open further under the latest health order from Gov. Lujan Grisham. We welcome this positive step.

Notably, after preventing drive in theaters from opening (both in Las Vegas AND a one-night showing in Rio Rancho) Gov. Lujan Grisham made a specific point of opening drive in theaters. She also reopened hair salons, barbers, and gyms.

Houses of worship remain at just 25% which seems unnecessarily low, but the biggest issue at this point is that bars and breweries remain completely closed. When those will open is anyone’s guess, but we’ve seen massive growth in the home-grown brewery business and it seems hard to justify their closure at this point (especially since many of them have more plentiful outdoor patio areas than restaurants).

The strict limitation on large groups remains in effect and she is setting herself up for some very controversial and difficult decisions over Balloon Fiesta and the State Fair in the very near future.

Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 201 Blair Dunn – The Legal Powers Granted New Mexico’s Governors plus Open and Transparent Government

Blair Dunn is a hard-charging New Mexico attorney who loves to sue the government (and often wins). He and Paul sit down this week to discuss the legality of the current “lockdown” situation in New Mexico. From whence do politicians (including Gov. Lujan Grisham) derive their powers? What can or should citizens do about it? Additionally, Paul and Blair consider the importance of open and transparent government during this crisis and discuss some of the actions he and the Foundation have taken together to defend open and transparent government in New Mexico.

You don’t want to miss this wide-ranging and timely discussion.

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RGF’s Gessing presents webinar on NM economy/virus to Los Alamos GOP

With so many in person events on hold these days organizations, especially political ones, are working overtime to figure out ways to keep momentum and activism going without meeting in person.

The Los Alamos GOP recently invited RGF president Paul Gessing to present information on New Mexico’s economy and the prospective recovery from the Virus shutdown and oil/gas price decline. You can watch the webinar below. Or, if your group would like to host a similar discussion, contact the Rio Grande Foundation at: info@riograndefoundation.org or 505-264-6090. We can even “host” through our Zoom account!

Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 200 Special Session Announced, Timing and Amount of Cuts, Oil and Tourism Outlook

On this week’s discussion podcast Paul and Wally acknowledge and appreciate the soldiers who have fought for the United States and died in battle. In part due to the relative lack of options this particular holiday, Paul and Wally record the podcast on Memorial Day itself.

As has become tradition in recent months the two offer the latest updates on COVID 19 starting with the fact that New Mexico’s special session is now scheduled for June 18. The Gov. seems to think the State is in great shape due to the existence of a “rainy day fund” totaling about $1.7 billion, but Wally and Paul beg to differ.

Also, an NM In Depth story asserts that public schools may avert deep cuts (at least in the June session). Paul believes the Gov. is waiting until after the November election to make the tough decisions.

New Mexico is among the strictest US states when it comes to being locked down according to a report from Wallethub.

A recent report from the Wall Street Journal argues that the Coronavirus slowdown and drop in oil prices threatens the shale boom for years. Wally is more hopeful.

Paul discusses candidates of both parties in the ongoing primary elections who have and haven’t signed the Rio Grande Foundation’s pledge not to raise taxes.

Finally, in a scary story that has the support of the Gov., New Mexico’s Secretary of Tourism says that New Mexico may potentially not have meetings of 100+ people for a year or 18 months. This would mean the cancellation of many events that make New Mexico so unique including the Balloon Fiesta not just for this year but for two years, not to mention sports, weddings, the State Fair, and many more.