A free market critique of the New Century Jobs Agenda

Jon Barela and the Economic Development Department have rolled out their legislative agenda for the 2013 legislative session and, presumably beyond. There is a lot of good here and we hope the Legislature will act on several of the proposals. There are plenty of other economic development ideas that could/should be considered and there are also some ideas that we’d question the merits of. First, the proposal includes the following (explanatory links have been provided):

Single Sales Factor
Corporate Income Tax Reduction
Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) – $10 million
Job Training Incentive Program (JTIP) – $4.75 million
Capital Outlay Reform
Spaceport Informed Consent
MainStreet Investment

Simply put, corporate income tax reforms and reductions are great ideas and long-overdo as are the legal protections needed for the Spaceport (although it is doubtful that the Spaceport could ever be a building block of NM’s overall economy). We also support and have supported in the past, reforms to New Mexico’s capital outlay system.

Unfortunately, JTIP, LEDA, and Main Street all represent bad tax and economic development policies. They are narrowly-targeted (as opposed to broad-based) and involve government taxing productive economic activities and shifting funds to other, less-productive uses. See our 2011 Piglet Book for details as the MainStreet and JTIP programs are prominently mentioned. LEDA became a center of controversy relating to subsidies for a big-box store in the South Valley. It may not be quite as problematic as the other two programs, but with government managing the process and targeting taxpayer dollars, it still defies the principles of good tax policy.

Some policies we’d like to see mentioned include: “Right to Work,” the adoption of regulatory cost-benefit legislation like that adopted recently in Indiana, and adoption of market, not “prevailing” wages for government construction projects in New Mexico. There are several other policy changes that could be adopted by the Legislature to spur economic growth, but these are just a few of the big ones.

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One Reply to “A free market critique of the New Century Jobs Agenda”

  1. Another insightful article.

    Mr. Barela spends a lot of time with industries in Southern New Mexico and he should have a better handle on what will really transform the State’s image and economic environment.

    Studies invariably support the notion that industry specific breaks are bad business.

    Broad and responsible reform will do more to “retain” our existing industries and also “attract” new ones.

    In particular, “Right to Work” is a proven job enhancer.

    I have worked with corporations for over twenty years and have heard the voices of these leaders enough to know what will work and what will not.

    Industries need stable and rational policies, tax codes and rules to survive. That is where New Mexico has its’ work cut out for itself.

    Keep up the great reporting.

    Brett Preston

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