Does Winthrop Quigley ever get tired of being wrong?
Quigley claims that the “Legislature hasn’t been exactly profligate,” citing the fact that it “appropriated only a half-percent more to run the state this fiscal year than it did last year, well under the rate of inflation.” Thus, the “problem is on the revenue side.”
Clever trick. But looking at a single year is inadequate, if not bizarre. A perspective far broader than Quigley’s facile comparison is needed. Fortunately, the Foundation has the data.
The state has spent the 21st century growing its expenditures as if the Great Recession — and the last few years of falling population in the Land of Enchantment — didn’t happen. Between 2002 and 2014, New Mexico’s spending, per capita and adjusted for inflation, rose by 17.1 percent, from $7,021 to $8,219:
These are all-in figures, as disclosed by the state’s Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports — not the dishonest “general fund” sum reflexively referred to by clueless politicians and lazy reporters. The expenditures include prisons, roads, schools, debt service, “economic development,” and quasi-government entities.
Quigley couldn’t be bothered to the research, but it’s clear that state government is stubbornly resistant to spending restraint. Faddish (and failed) education expenditures, disastrous corporate-welfare schemes, a refusal to bring employee compensation in line with that of the private sector — again and again, governors and lawmakers have preferred fiscal irresponsibility to limited, affordable government. The bill for such recklessness is now coming due. So look for Quigley and his ideological allies to keep pushing for higher taxes in the Land of Enchantment. But hey, the state with arguably the worst economy in the nation can handle it, right?