Despite nation’s highest unemployment rate New Mexico businesses struggle to find workers

The latest state unemployment data for May, 2022, show (once again) that New Mexico has the nation’s highest unemployment rate at 5.1%.

That is not a surprise given New Mexico’s long-term problems with workforce participation and job creation, but a new report from Wallethub claims that New Mexico businesses are having problems (relative to employers in other states) finding workers. According to the new report, New Mexico businesses are 23rd in terms of the number of job openings.

With a high number of workers on the sidelines both in terms of unemployment AND workforce participation, what could be the problem? New Mexico has always struggled to get workers into the workforce, but since COVID the situation has deteriorated even further. Click here on the map below for the full Wallethub report.

Getting more New Mexicans back into paying jobs is a complicated challenge that could involve some combination of lower taxes, fewer/lower welfare payments, and improved education/training for jobs that actually exist (as opposed to blindly paying for college).

Tipping Point NM episode: 416 Chris Talgo on the Problems with Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG)

On this week’s podcast interview Paul talks to Chris Talgo, Senior Editor at the free market Heartland Institute.  The main topic addressed is “ESG.” ESG stands for “Environmental Social and Governance” which are social credit scores assigned to corporations, supposedly for their corporate behavior in relevant areas. Not surprisingly, ESG is yet another tool for opponents of traditional sources of energy and even free speech to attack their opponents.

Talgo and Gessing go into detail about ESG and also discuss how the Biden Administration is using ESG and other tools to kill American energy.

Arizona continues school choice leadership with universal school choice

If/when New Mexico Republicans ever have a chance to actually enact public policy in the State of New Mexico, they will have to look no further than Arizona for a model of what to do.

Already a leader in education choice and accountability Arizona has just enacted Empowerment Scholarship Accounts (also known as education savings accounts or ESAs). Prior to enactment of this legislation about a quarter of elementary and secondary students in Arizona were eligible for an ESA, including students with special needs, students assigned to low-performing district schools, the children of active-duty military personnel, and a few other categories of students. all K-12 students.

Once the new legislation is implemented, ALL Arizona students will be eligible to receive 90% of the state portion of Arizona’s per-pupil funding, including the additional funds for students with special needs in order to find the educational options that make sense for themselves and their families.

The following is a comparison of 4th grade reading scores from the “Nation’s Report Card” (NAEP). As recently as 2007 New Mexico actually outperformed Arizona, but as the State’s reforms have taken hold and New Mexico has stood pat the gap has grown between the two. AZ is now at 216 and NM’s average is 208.

New Mexico among 15 states still in COVID “emergency”

Gov. Lujan Grisham’s latest health order expires on July 15. Of course, there is no sign that she will end her order until she leaves office as there has been an uptick in COVID cases in recent weeks.

While most parts of New Mexico show few signs of being in an “emergency” UNM is now “recommending” masks indoors. That could easily change this fall.

New Mexico remains one of 15 states  in an emergency under state law according to the National Association of State Health Boards. See the map below. While it tilts toward states with Democrat governors (including otherwise conservative Kansas and North Carolina), but Alaska, West Virginia, Georgia, and Texas all continue to be in an “emergency.”

Tipping Point NM episode 415: Supreme Court, Gas Tax, Pay for Protection and more

Paul and Wally begin by discussing the political implications of the Roe v. Wade decision for New Mexico and the Gov’s race. Will it prevent a “red wave?”

10 years ago Chief Justice John Roberts handed down a convoluted decision upholding “ObamaCare” in the NFIB v. Sebelius decision.

Rep. Leger Fernandez “finally” updates her website after RGF called her out on it.

RGF’s column on pre-K runs throughout NM.

Will Biden suspend the gas tax? Is this a good idea? 

Mayor Keller: Businesses should pay twice for more policing.

NM is one of 15 states still under an emergency order.

 

No pandemic learning loss in Sweden during the pandemic (unlike New Mexico)

Remember when Sweden (and Swedish schools) remained open while New Mexico and many other “blue” states shut down, including schools during the COVID pandemic? We do. Nonetheless, Michelle Lujan Grisham shut the schools down for over a year costing our children dearly, a mistake that one researcher told the New York Times was “the largest increase in educational inequity in a generation.”

Now, research (click on the image below) finds that Swedish children experienced NO learning loss during the pandemic. Below that is the sorry tale from New Mexico (again, click the pictures for source).

Oh, and Sweden’s death rate from COVID was lower than the US as a whole and about half of New Mexico’s rate.

 

When looking at reading scores by state, all but six states saw a decrease in students hitting a state-set landmark. The poor reading marks indicate that students, especially younger ones, are still struggling, with a median student-growth percentile of 35, showing very low growth

The math exam saw students perform similarly, with 10 states slightly rising above the 50 mark - Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Vermont, and North and South Dakota

10 years ago: SCOTUS/John Roberts upheld ObamaCare

Ten years ago, June 28, 2012, the US Supreme Court and John Roberts used some complicated mental gymnastics to declare ObamaCare a “tax” in the interests of not overturning it.

While ObamaCare DID expand the number of people on Medicaid, but as the Reason article linked above notes, “The outcome of that case has shaped both the health law’s evolution and its public perception, leaving Americans with a major federal program that even its fiercest advocates say does not live up to its goals.”

Notably, while then Gov. Susana Martinez (a Republican) made the disappointing but understandable decision of expanding Medicaid, numerous states have not. These include some of the fastest growing states in the nation (like Texas, Florida, and Tennessee) as the following from Kaiser Family Foundation highlights.

RGF column: N.M. should think twice about universal pre-K

This piece ran in the Santa Fe New Mexican on June 25.

As we move beyond a contentious series of primaries in both parties and look to the fall election, one of the big issues on the fall ballot is the plan to “tap” New Mexico’s permanent fund to provide universal preschool. For years this has been an agenda item for the State’s left-leaning interest groups. But it only received legislative support with the retirement of Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith.

This November voters will decide whether to “allocate 1.25 percent of the five-year average of year-end market values of the money in the Land Grant Permanent Fund to early childhood education.” The Legislative Finance Committee estimates that the additional allocation would be about $245.7 million in fiscal year 2023. Of that total, $126.9 million would be allocated for early childhood education, $84.6 million to public education, and $34.2 million for the Land Grant Permanent Fund’s other beneficiaries.

The plan is to provide “free,” “universal” pre-K to all New Mexico 3- and 4-year-olds.

Advocates and supporters tout all kinds of supposed benefits of government-funded pre-K, but the best available study of the issue (involving a randomized control) of a similar program that has been in place since 2005 in Tennessee found pre-K had negative impacts on children.

According to the study undertaken by Vanderbilt University, “Children who attended Tennessee’s state-funded voluntary pre-K program during the 2009-10 and 2010-11 school years were doing worse than their peers by the end of sixth grade in academic achievement, discipline issues and special education referrals. The trend emerged by the end of third grade and was even more pronounced three years later.”

One of the study authors, Dale Farran of Vanderbilt’s Peabody College said of the results, “The kinds of pre-K that our poor children are going into are not good for them long-term.” Furthermore, “[We] have let ourselves get into the idea that what these children need is a lot more academic instruction. … It’s just the opposite. What you would like to give poor children is a feeling of being cared for and being successful.”

While other pre-K studies often seem to show positive results from massive government “investment” in pre-K programs, few of those studies feature a control group. In other words, most studies look at two different groups whose parents chose pre-K and those who didn’t choose it and compare the results. That mostly shows parents who choose pre-K tend to place a high value on education. That skews the results in favor of the programs. There are much more sensible and cost-effective alternatives to “universal” taxpayer-funded pre-K. This might include a system of voluntary home visits for purposes of helping parents learn to be better parents. Alas, those don’t come with a taxpayer-funded bureaucracy and expansion of employment opportunities for teachers.

Unfortunately, the ballot presents a simple “Yes” or “No” option for voters. It is difficult to mount an effective campaign against a ballot measure when the alternative is essentially “do nothing.”

This is just one of the flaws in our state’s numerous “permanent” funds, including the Land Grant Permanent Fund, created in 1893, long before New Mexico became a state. Dedicated funding for beneficiaries may seem like a good thing, but giving government bureaucrats a dedicated stream of money without real accountability or the ability for policymakers to shift resources when needs change is far from ideal.

In Tennessee, where again pre-K was found to have negative outcomes, pre-K is funded by a combination of lottery revenue and general education funds. Sadly, putting pre-K funding on autopilot as New Mew Mexico’s constitutional amendment proposes is even less likely to lead to quality outcomes and accountable results for our children.

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.

Biden/Haaland vs. government transparency

Government transparency is good, right? Unfortunately, the Biden/Haaland Department of Interior would rather the public not have access to certain information on settlements and consent decrees between the government and outside interest groups.

Alas, while government transparency sometimes doesn’t seem to have a clear, immediate impact on public policy, Biden’s push for LESS transparency is designed to benefit radical environmental groups that they wish to be able to make deals with their former colleagues (now in government) and not tell anybody about it.

As William Perry Pendley, the Trump-era director of the Bureau of Land Management said, “There is money going to groups that are turning around and using that money to fund litigation to again sue their former colleagues who are now in office.”

The more transparent system was put in place by the Trump Administration. New Mexico’s Deb Haaland continues to “lead” the Department of Interior.

Biden Admin Quietly Nukes Trump-Era 'Transparency' Initiative Tracking Settlements And Payouts To Left-Wing Activists | The Daily Caller

Episode 414: Alexis Martinez Johnson, candidate for New Mexico Congressional District 3

On this week’s podcast conversation Paul is joined by Alexis Martinez Johnson. Alexis is running for congress in New Mexico’s 3rd congressional district. The District, currently occupied by “freshman” Democrat Teresa Leger Fernandez used to be a “safe” Democrat seat, but with redistricting it is now a much more competitive seat. Paul talks to Alexis about her background, why she decided to run for office, and some of the important issues she is running on in this newly-competitive district.