Mayor Berry’s spot-on suggestions for boosting NM’s economy

Albuquerque Mayor RJ Berry has some sound ideas when it comes to boosting economic development in NM’s largest city and the state as a whole. According to Winthrop Quigley over at the Albuquerque Journal, the Mayor recently spoke about changing New Mexico’s corporate income tax to include a “single-factor” and, our own favorite option “Right to Work.”

I don’t think Quigley gives Mayor Berry credit for his ideas which, if adopted, would certainly improve New Mexico’s business climate. Rather, Quigley prefers to focus on the political opposition and New Mexico’s often-backwards political culture that hinders such reform efforts. Interestingly, Quigley does point out that Gov. Martinez has not latched on in support of the Mayor’s “big ideas.” While I think she is waiting to see how the Legislature shapes up after the 2012 elections, it would be great to see her take the lead on some more big-picture, free market economic reforms that will actually turn New Mexico around and reduce our over-reliance on Washington. To that end, I had the following letter published in the Albuquerque Business Journal:

It is obviously concerning that, in the midst of a weak economic recovery nationwide, that the weakness of Albuquerque’s recovery is notably week. As the article notes, the single-largest factor is the reduction in federal largesse. Regardless of what happens in November, simple math dictates that the money flowing into our economy from the outside will continue to decline.

This sounds depressing from an economic development perspective, but it actually represents a great opportunity for the state to develop its own economy independent of Washington.

We can start by reforming regulations on labor and adopting a statewide “Right to Work” law, abandoning our “prevailing wage” law, and avoiding passage of a higher minimum wage locally. There are also 52 low and moderate-income occupations that require licensing in New Mexico, including everything from funeral attendants to animal trainers that make doing business more challenging than necessary.

Industries are also regulated in ways that hurt competition and hold back our economy. For example, in order for new companies to enter the New Mexico market as a “common carrier” to provide limousine or taxi service, they must file a “certificate of public convenience and necessity,” thus giving the incumbent a say in whether competitors can even set up shop.

New Mexico is consistently ranked nationally as being “economically-uncompetitive” for these and other reasons. Since won’t have our generous federal security blanket for much longer, it is time to change.