Unlike New Mexico, SOME states are providing help to parents/families for educational needs

In today’s paper we are notified that Santa Fe and Rio Rancho schools will be abandoning any in-person learning for the time-being. We also know that this “forced-virtual” model is not working for a majority of students and that leading health bodies like the CDC have recommended in-person learning.

So, with so few school districts serving those who desire in-person education, what choice do parents have? Gov. MLG and the union-dominated political power structure of the State has been implacably opposed to helping parents and families as they face dire challenges in educating their children thanks to the pandemic and the shutdown of in-person teaching.

In fact, New Mexico sued the Trump Administration to stop ANY CARES Act funding from being directed to non-public schools, other states (including two of New Mexico’s neighbors) have found creative ways to directly help families impacted by the shutdown of in-person learning in many school districts.

  • Oklahoma is providing $30 million from the CARES Act to support families impacted by the Virus-induced shutdowns.  “These programs will allow for students and families of diverse backgrounds to access the quality resources they need in order to continue their education journey amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Stitt.
  • Idaho has created a $50 million program  using CARES Act dollars to spent on eligible educational materials, devices and services. Parents can apply for benefits totaling $1,500 per eligible student and a maximum award of $3,500 per family.
  • Texas used $30 million to help special needs students whose families have been forced to deal with a difficult situation in the pandemic. Families of some students with disabilities may be eligible for $1,500 per child in aid to use toward services including tutoring, therapy and digital resources.

It would be great if New Mexico came up with something similar to these other states. Alas, you don’t get to 50th in education by making good decisions.

Governor Stitt Announces $30 Million Education Allocation Plan

Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 247: Election and prediction recaps, prospects for marijuana legalization in NM, and ABQ Sick Leave

On this week’s podcast, Paul and Wally go through this past Tuesday’s election results at the federal and state levels. How did Paul and Wally do in their predictions? Trump is not giving up. Georgia will have two runoff elections that could determine partisan control of the Senate. Here in New Mexico Wally and Paul note the high turnout and the challenges that creates for conservatives here in NM. Mark Ronchetti acquitted himself well, Yvette Herrell won her CD 2 race, but Speaker Egolf says he’ll redistrict CD 2. Can he do it?

Also, if the results hold in the presidential race, will Gov. Lujan Grisham leave New Mexico to work for the Biden Administration? Paul and Wally discuss the upcoming 2021 New Mexico Legislature and some of their likely priorities which could include marijuana legalization, tapping the Land Grant Permanent fund, and tax hikes?

Might they pass a statewide sick leave mandate? Will they directly hit the oil and gas industry? Finally, what will the 60-day Legislature look like? Will it be in-person or virtual and how will that work for a 60-day session?

Gov. MLG’s latest COVID 19 update included no new restrictions. UNM and NMSU athletics are heading toward conflict w/Gov. as they are the ONLY two men’s Division 1 basketball teams in the nation that cannot currently practice?

Albuquerque City Council will be taking up yet another mandatory paid sick leave proposal. As currently drafted it will apply to 10 or more employees starting in January 2021 and 3 or more employees starting in January 2022.

Finally, RGF attempts to get ahold of 40-day enrollment numbers from the Public Education Department.

Talking election results on the air

Recently, RGF president Paul Gessing had the opportunity to discuss the 2020 election results with Bob Clark on 770 KKOB radio. Then he sat down with Bob Gore of the East Mountain Conservatives also to discussing the results.

Links to both are posted below:

Paid sick time: It’s wrong time for more burdens on businesses

 

 

The Rio Grande Foundation signed this opinion piece along with numerous other business groups. The Sick leave ordinance is being introduced at the ABQ City Council meeting on Monday, November 9, 2020.

Back in July, Darin Sand, vice president for development at Goodman Realty, told the Albuquerque Journal “We are diversifying and looking to other cities and states in terms of future investments, and I think that’s smart … because of the political environment here.”

He was one of several local business owners who expressed concerns about their ability to do business in Albuquerque in the article, “ABQ businesses manifest financial ruin.” The story highlighted in stark detail the impacts of the economic lockdown. It also showed ways in which state and local economic policies make life difficult for local businesses.

Yet the Albuquerque City Council will be bringing up the issue of a paid sick leave mandate. This comes on top of a minimum wage increase passed in 2019 by the N.M. Legislature that will take the city’s lowest wage from $9.35 an hour to $10.50 an hour starting in January. That’s a 12% increase.

Not many local businesses have achieved 12% growth this year. In fact, the list of local business closures in recent months, due mostly to COVID-19, is long and growing fast. Does the City Council really want to hasten the demise of even more of the stores and restaurants that make our city and state unique?

Albuquerque voters rejected a paid sick leave mandate in 2017. And the City Council rightly decided to put off the issue back in June of this year. It is hard to see what has changed that would merit the imposition of yet another increase in the costs of doing business.

If anything, with the state’s economic lockdown dragging on and Albuquerque’s unemployment rate elevated, the state of most small businesses is even more precarious than it was this summer. A widely-acknowledged trend to arise from the COVID 19 pandemic is that many big corporations are doing fine or even better than before, while small businesses are struggling. Numerous local businesses have yet to reopen at all since March, and yet the City Council is considering imposing additional costs and regulations on them.

The ongoing COVID situation should not be an excuse to impose more costs on local businesses. At the beginning of the outbreak Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. This paid leave is then paid back to the employer by the federal government. This is effective through Dec. 31 and likely to be extended with the next federal relief package.

It is, of course, small, family businesses that will be most negatively impacted by another costly policy. That’s because unlike big corporations, each new mandate makes doing business incrementally harder as they have less cushion and are not diversified in numerous areas of the country.

Valuing small business is why we’ll all celebrate Small Business Saturday later this month. While many of us have enjoyed the ability to have products and services delivered during this pandemic, it is also worth noting that Amazon doesn’t sponsor many youth baseball and soccer teams around town.

While businesses in Albuquerque face numerous difficulties, we do value our workers and want them to be healthy. In fact, workers often stick with small businesses because they more resemble a family. We know COVID-19 has impacted all of us, not just our bottom lines, but our friends, families and employees. We’ve heard “We’re all in this together.” If that is truly the case, now is definitely not the time for Albuquerque’s City Council to put more regulations on struggling local businesses.

Riding the Paid Sick Leave Wave–Santa Monica Edition | California Peculiarities Employment Law Blog

Tipping Point NM episode 246: James Taylor – Energy Policy and The Environment (with a focus on a prospective Biden Administration)

On this week’s podcast, Paul interviews James Taylor, president of the Heartland Institute. Based in Chicago, IL, Heartland’s mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems, but it is most known for its work on energy and climate issues.

Taylor joins the podcast to discuss Joe Biden’s energy policies and specifically his attacks on “fracking” and the oil and gas industries in general and how those policies would actually harm the environment. Taylor and Gessing discuss Biden’s version of the “Green New Deal” as well as efforts in California and New Mexico to move away from gasoline-powered vehicles.

Initial thoughts on the 2020 election in New Mexico (mostly)

As I write this the dust STILL has not settled from the 2020 election, but here are a few thoughts:

  • Regardless of who ultimately prevails in the presidential election, the fact that Republicans held onto the US Senate (UPDATE: this is pending the results of two runoffs in Georgia) means that there will be no court packing or addition of new states for at least two years.
  • Voter turnout in New Mexico was over 68 percent which set a record. Normally this bodes extremely poorly for the GOP in New Mexico which is outnumbered by Democrats in this State. But, 2020 WAS NOT a “bloodbath” for the GOP. In fact, Yvette Herrell won her race handily and Mark Ronchetti had a very strong performance against Ben Ray Lujan in the Senate race. Ronchetti has a bright future in New Mexico politics.
  • The GOP had a more coherent election strategy than in years’ past with its “Respect New Mexico” effort and other GOTV efforts. Turnout was good on the GOP side, but Democrats also turned out and in New Mexico the GOP simply can’t compete purely on turnout.
  • Albuquerque has gone far to the left. Whether it is just the growing urban/rural divide, an influx of more liberal voters, or voters not responding to the GOP message, by all measures the GOP was wiped out in Albuquerque. Of four GOP state senators that came into 2020 with districts largely in city limits, only Mark Moores remains.
  •   The New Mexico Legislature will be very “progressive” moving forward. In years’ past the GOP had at least “some” influence with moderate Democrats like John Arthur Smith. Those days are done and not only did the GOP NOT pick up seats, it lost one. Marijuana legalization is likely. So is tapping the permanent fund and so are tax hikes.
  • Finally, with a “progressive” New Mexico Legislature in place, it is unlikely that Gov. Lujan Grisham will face challenges to her near-dictatorial powers on COVID 19, but it is also quite possible that she could leave New Mexico if Biden is declared the winner. Only time will tell if the “progressives” running the Legislature will demand separation of powers and whether MLG or Lt. Gov. Howie Morales will be running the show.

New Mexico needs more Dale Bellamah’s

Like everyone else out there we at the Rio Grande Foundation remain keenly interested in the results of the election. We too are disappointed that so many New Mexicans looked at the policies that have been in place in New Mexico for 90 years (to awful effect) and said, “More please!”

It has not always been thus, or, at least some prominent New Mexico business people took VERY principled free market positions. I know after reading the excellent recent Albuquerque Journal story about home builder Dale Bellamah (whose name lives on in street names across the City of Albuquerque) that I’ll take note when I see his name on street signs around town.

Here are some great quotes from the story about him which illustrate the values that helped Mr. Bellamah achieve great things.

He scoffed at government interference when it came to business. He opposed putting a cap on the price of goods and enacting rations proposed by President Harry S. Truman in 1947. He argued the measures were “contrary to the American way of living and destroys free enterprise.”

Two years later he fought against a proposed bill that would establish a low-cost housing program in response to a shortage of homes. He said it was a step toward “breeding a nation of irresponsibles” and the bureaucratic fumbling would end up costing taxpayers more money.

But Bellamah did care about the working man and the plight of the poor. He left his entire estate, estimated between $30 million and $50 million, to a charity foundation he established a few years before his death.

Notably, Bellamah wasn’t born with a “silver spoon” in his mouth. In fact, according to the Journal article”His mother died when he was 12. By then his father was invalid and could not work, so Bellamah was forced to find employment.”

There are plenty of great business leaders in New Mexico and Albuquerque today, but the political winds and social pressure cause them to keep quiet.

Ahead of his time: Dale Bellamah wasn't just interested in building homes, he envisioned building entire communities » Albuquerque Journal Princess Jeanne Park | Albuquerque Modernism

 

How many students were enrolled in public school after 40 days? New Mexico PED won’t say.

How many students were enrolled in New Mexico’s public education system after the first 40 days of the 2020-2021 school year? That is a critical number for determining funding for New Mexico’s public school funding. Also, in the midst of dramatic changes due to the COVID 19 pandemic, this information is especially relevant for understanding how families are reacting to “virtual” and “hybrid” learning policies that are being imposed statewide.

Schools completed the 40 day threshhold back in mid/early October, but, when RGF requested the information from the Public Education Department we received the following letter which basically said, “wait until mid-December.”

Tipping Point NM episode 245: Election Day Predictions, Paul talks w/ Al Jazeera, ABQ paid sick leave redux, and More

The virus continues to spread in New Mexico. Paul and Wally look at the numbers. Gov. MLG doesn’t attend the pre-election press conference. Paul and Wally assume a big lockdown is coming post-election. Paul shares details on his family’s Halloween celebrations.

Paul has a conversation about the election with Al Jazeera. 

Paul talks about the Gov.’s COVID response in ABQ Journal. 

Paul and Wally offer their pre-election predictions for President, Senate, House, overall control of the US Senate, and NM Legislature.

Gov. MLG proposes a tourism stimulus package for the upcoming session. What could this involve?

National economic data show strong rebound. Will those numbers continue to improve or decline with the spike in the virus?

ABQ City Council (again) to consider mandatory paid sick leave. ABQ Chamber Terri Cole has some strong and welcome words on the issue.

PNM to get out of Four Corners coal plant as well as San Juan. Now “coal free” by 2024. Navajo Nation will purchase the plant and may frustrate environmentalist efforts to shutter the facility.

ABQ City Council to consider mandatory paid sick leave once again

While everyone is focused on the election we at the Rio Grande Foundation are (yet again) gearing up to fight the issue that simply will not die: mandatory paid sick leave. Read about the latest plan here. 

The plan has been put forth by Councilors Lan Sena and Pat Davis. At first it would apply to employers with 10 or more employees.  Smaller companies would face the mandate starting in 2022.

At the Rio Grande Foundation we have long been critical of such mandates and their negative impact on small businesses, but it is truly mind-boggling that this idea is being pushed at a time when many businesses remain shuttered entirely (and have been since March). Other businesses remain partially open or open at only 25%.

We were extremely pleased to see the following comments from Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce in the aforementioned Albuquerque Journal article,  “Many businesses are barely clinging to life as it is due to the pandemic, and a new mandate could be devastating.

“Small businesses need help, not regulation and relief, not higher costs.” Finally, Cole argued that, “Using the pandemic as a reason to mandate paid sick leave is ‘grasping, unserious and disappointing.'”

City councilors propose new paid leave bill » Albuquerque Journal