Winthrop Quigley, business journalist at the Albuquerque Journal, had another economically-confused column on New Mexico economic policies and our potential for economic growth. Quigley questions efforts to lower New Mexico’s tax burden and make the state more attractive to businesses.
As Quigley notes, “our state’s corporate income tax changes were designed to signal…that New Mexico is open for business…competing with the rest of the country on the basis of price.”
Well, I’m not sure it is quite so simple. True, our state has relatively low wages and that can be a selling point, but this is an information economy. Quigley is right about that and the fact that we need an educated, entrepreneurial work force. But that doesn’t mean that you can’t be competitive on taxes and economic policy.
Ultimately, businesses and individuals want to work where they can keep a higher percentage of their incomes (low income taxes, both corporate and income) and control who they hire and fire with fewer hoops to jump through (Right to Work) to name just two policies that impact where businesses locate.
New Mexico has not been “in the game” when it comes to being economically competitive for much of its history. That can change, but even if it does, it will take time to transform and improve New Mexico’s economy. The flip side is that New York and California do very little well when it comes to economic policy. They are high-tax states with heavy regulatory burdens. They also have some specific industries that have developed there over the decades.
However, the reality is that people are leaving economically-unfree states like New York and California and moving to economically-free states like Texas. The reality is that New Mexico can be a destination for highly-skilled workers and jobs, but we need public policies in place that give people a reason to set up shop here.