Challenging School Construction as “economic development”

Last week, the Albuquerque Journal’s Business section contained an article touting the “job creation” impact of school construction on the local economy.

Of course taxing the citizens and/or oil and gas production do “create jobs” in construction, but as an economic development tool it represents nothing more than shifting money from one pocket to the other. We’re not even pilfering tax dollars from other states as that other “economic development” program Medicaid does.

Here is my article, published in today’s Business Journal explaining that school construction is not going to contribute to overall economic growth:

Sadly, the recent article about school construction providing the bulk of Albuquerque-area construction activity is just another indicator of New Mexico’s abject lack of a private sector (outside of the now-struggling oil and gas industries).

Legislators had a few small successes in Santa Fe with the passage of ride-sharing and worker’s compensation reforms, but they failed to deregulate New Mexico’s economy in any meaningful way. Another traditionally-poor state, West Virginia, raced ahead with passage of a “Right to Work” bill and repeal of “prevailing wage” laws that arbitrarily raise construction prices on public works projects like roads and schools.

The Associated Builders and Contractors, a free market construction trade association, recently rated New Mexico an astonishing 51st nationwide in terms of construction-oriented state policies. That’s behind even the District of Columbia. New Mexico’s lack of a “Right to Work” law and the existence of arbitrary construction pricing in the form of “prevailing wage” were major factors in our performance.

Every industry in our State relies on construction. With 10,000 people showing up to interview for 290 jobs at a newly-opened Cheesecake Factory, it is clear that our economy is in dire straits. Government spending simply can’t save us.

School construction pulling double duty

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8 Replies to “Challenging School Construction as “economic development””

  1. Which is better, fewer but higher paying jobs or more, 25% more, jobs albiet at a lower wage? Does anyone in NM recall how Rio Rancho’s first High School was built? Those who do will recall that it was built for about 70-75% of the cost of an APS built school. Think about that for a minute. How was it done? Why did it cost so much less? RRHS was built by Intel and donated to the RR school system. Intel did NOT have to use “prevailing” wages and saved at least 25% over the cost of every other New Mexico government construction project. STOP! Read that last sentence again. Only about 15% of New Mexican’s are members of a union. Yet 100% of New Mexicans have to pay dearly for “prevailing wages” due to the Little Davis Bacon act. If you bemoan the physical condition of a school near you, the deteriorating roads or bridges, the leaking city water system, the shortage of court rooms, or any other government construction project, blame it on your past democratic legislature for passing Little Davis Bacon and preventing it’s needed, deserved demise!

    1. Thank you for your insights John. I did not know that about RRHS. One can argue about whether they want more jobs at lower wages or fewer jobs at higher wages, but there is no doubt we want more and better schools and roads.

  2. I’d like to see prevailing wage laws raised as a campaign issue. Because this law effectively mandates union labor, it amounts to an indirect taxpayer subsidy to unions — which kick back a portion of this money in campaign contributions to politicians.

    I hope what passes for the Republican party in New Mexico will follow the money on this and point out how much Democratic legislators receive in union contributions.

  3. Didn’t I read something just a few days ago in the Albuquerque Journal, that enrollment at APS schools is declining? And yet they want to build new schools? Of course! It is only “other people’s” money, so why should APS worry?

  4. “Legislators had a few small successes in Santa Fe with the passage of ride-sharing”

    Really? Putting small cab companies across NM out of business in favor of Uber, a $49 Billion company based in Sweden is a good idea for NM? Sorry, I just don’t get it.

  5. This kind of parallels Pelosi’s lame brain claim that continued unemployment funds are good for getting out of the recession.

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