No, we’re not going to get drawn into the “deep” libertarian argument over whether building roads is a proper role of government. Rather, the more relevant question is whether New Mexico State government which has been inundated with money from the oil and gas industry in the Permian Basin should be doing more to fund infrastructure that is required to keep that oil boom going.
New Mexico Transportation Secretary Sandoval recently visited the Permian to talk about roads and infrastructure. While he did say a lot of things about putting money into basic road projects in the area he also seemed to make a plea for more federal spending in the region and even said, “We have approached New Mexico oil and gas companies for public-private partnerships and we think it’s appropriate for them as individual companies to come to the table and provide money for construction.”
This drove the Rio Grande Foundation to submit the following response which was published in the Current-Argus on August 27, 2019.
It is truly mind-blowing and somewhat offensive that DOT Secretary would visit Eddy County to discuss roads and plead poverty.
Options for road funding seem to include going after federal dollars and “approaching New Mexico oil and gas companies for public-private partnerships.”
We all (yes, even in Albuquerque) are aware of the infrastructure challenges in SE New Mexico. It is also clear that New Mexico is awash in oil and gas revenues thanks largely to the Permian Basin and Eddy County.
There are a variety of ways to make limited road dollars go further including (but not limited to) public-private partnerships and repeal of New Mexico’s artificial “prevailing wage” on construction projects. But, the State has more than enough money to maintain and improve roads throughout our State and especially in SE New Mexico. In fact it has record amounts of money thanks to oil and gas.
Rather than going to Washington or asking oil and gas companies to contribute to the most basic of all government-provided goods (infrastructure), the Lujan-Grisham Administration and the Legislature should direct a bit of the oil and gas largesse to maintain the infrastructure needed to make this boom possible.