Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 263: Halfway Home? Looking ahead to 2021

On this week’s Tipping Point NM podcast Paul and Wally look forward to and make predictions about 2021.

Are we really just “halfway home” on COVID 19? If so, what does that mean?

The left suddenly agrees that the ETA needs fixing. We said this at the time, but Wally and Paul suspect the motivations of these legislators don’t involve defending ratepayers.

Churches face fines due to violations of Gov.’s orders. Paul attended Christmas Eve services and shares his thoughts.

Finally, Paul and Wally make their predictions for 2021:

First, with the Legislature meeting, what will happen on Pot legalization, mandatory paid sick leave, tax hikes, do they attack oil and gas directly? What about another minimum wage hike? Will reforms to Social Security or the GRT happen? Will the Legislature vote to tap the permanent fund and if so, will they simply spend more on ECE or will they do something more/better? Will the Legislature pass and will effective limits on the Gov’s power in an emergency be put in place?

Will kids be back in school in-person this spring? How about this fall?

Will Cliff’s Amusement Park and Hinkle Family Fun Center reopen? How about the Albuquerque Isotopes?

When will restaurants in Bernalillo County be allowed to open up?

Will Virgin Galactic launch from Spaceport America? How about the Rail Runner?

Who will win the Senate races in Georgia?

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United Van Lines 2020 mobility report: What does it mean for New Mexico?

United Van Lines has released its report on where people are moved to and from in 2020. You can check out the map below.

Given the uniqueness of 2020 it is VERY interesting to see where people are moving to and from. But, while 2020 was a very unique year, 2020 mostly saw the continuation of a trend that saw high tax “blue” (politically-speaking) states like New Jersey, New York, California, and Illinois continue to lose people while more economically-free (both long-term and in terms of the Virus), lower-cost states like Idaho, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Arizona were among the biggest gainers in terms of population.

Fast-growing “blue” Oregon is an enigma but we suspect Californians may be moving in numbers due to its relatively lower costs.
The following data for New Mexico from the report show that New Mexico tends to attract older retirees and those moving for “lifestyle” reasons. Younger people and those moving for jobs or family are less likely to choose New Mexico.

Update: there is a similar report from Allied Van Lines. It largely reflects the trends found in the report above and can be found here:


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Where does New Mexico head in 2021?

According to the latest from our State “overlords” New Mexico is “halfway there” in terms of COVID 19 (whatever that means).

That means that far from being a breath of fresh air, 2021 will simply mean “more of the same” for New Mexico as it will be locked down and your freedoms will remain “on hiatus” until September as Scrase states in the article.

One of the many problems with such statements is that they don’t give us any useful information. For starters:

Cliffs Amusement Park says they need to open this March in order to save their business. Is that realistic or are they likely to lose ANOTHER full season?

Are bowling alleys, ice rinks, movie theaters, concert venues (inside and out) going to be treated the same or is there any way they can reopen sooner than later?

What about churches?

Will the Albuquerque Isotopes have a season or not?

Does this mean (as we suspect) that students in New Mexico’s government-run schools will not return to in-person learning until next fall?

Are restaurants REALLY going to be closed to indoor dining until we get out of red or can something be done to help them this winter like we saw with big-box stores?

The State Fair is expected to begin on September 9. What needs to happen for that to open as planned?

What about spring sports for New Mexico student/athletes?

Are there other businesses or cultural events you worry might be lost completely OR lost for a 2nd-consecutive year thanks to the Gov. and her heavy-handed COVID policies? Send us a note: info@riograndefoundation.org

New Year'S Day Year 2021 - Free image on Pixabay




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Tipping Point NM episode 262: Spaceport America and Corruption, Virgin Galactic’s Aborted Launch-w/ Parabolic Arc’s Doug Messier

On this week’s interview podcast, Paul sits down with Doug Messier of the space privatization website Parabolic Arc. They discuss the recent aborted launch at Spaceport America, corruption issues with the facility’s leadership, and management changes at Virgin Galactic. There are many issues and challenges as Virgin Galactic HOPES to launch in 2021.

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2020, the year of government overreach

When it comes to writing a history of 2020 there is no question that COVID 19 is THE dominant issue. The real question is (as we have seen after every crisis) to what extent government will grow and freedom will recede when the Virus no longer predominates.

Objectively, government officials have done a poor job throughout. They based lockdowns and “social distancing” policies on a science fair project done more than a decade ago by an Albuquerque 15 year old. on Here is an excellent piece detailing 12 times the “lockdowners” were wrong.

And then there are the ongoing school closures (see link and story below). Of course here in New Mexico our Gov. and her lockdowns have destroyed hundreds (even thousands) of businesses and resulted in absurd “breadlines” to get into grocery stores.

Unlike most of New Mexico’s harmful economic policies, arguably the most problematic aspect of the current situation is that it has been undertaken by ONE person (the Gov.) with no real checks or balances let alone transparency. This HAS to change when the Legislature convenes in 2021.

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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 261: The Year in Review – 2020

On this week’s podcast, Wally and Paul review the year that was 2020. But, before discussing what was a very challenging year, they discuss President Trump’s decision to sign the $900 billion stimulus bill and $1.4 federal funding legislation.

Biden has called the legislation a “down payment” on what we can only imagine will be an even bigger “stimulus” in the near future.

Also, since COVID dominated 2020 like few issues since at least World War II, Paul and Wally run through this article which details “12 times when the lockdowners were wrong.

With that, Wally and Paul review 2020 starting in “the olden days” of January 2020 with a “normal” New Mexico legislative session and a massive budget surplus and take us through the year’s events and right back up to the present.

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260 Dean Stansel – NM is 42nd in Index of Economic Freedom in North America

On this week’s podcast, Paul interviews Dean Stansel. Dean is a Research Associate Professor at the Bridwell Institute for Economic Freedom in the Cox School of Business at Southern Methodist University, but the main topic of the discussion is the 2020 version of the Fraser Institute’s Index of Economic Freedom of North America.

New Mexico lags its region dramatically in the Index (coming in at 42nd overall) even though the data in this particular Index are from 2018, the final year of Gov. Susana Martinez’s term in office. Dean and Paul discuss the components of economic freedom and why it matters in alleviating the poverty that is all-too-common in New Mexico.
In addition to the document above you can explore the data over time (and international rankings of economic freedom) using this interactive website.

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Netflix Fueled by Oil and Gas in New Mexico



The following appeared at National Review’s website on December 25, 2020

We have known for decades the extent to which progressives dominate Hollywood. In the age of social media, Hollywood celebrities waste no opportunity to show that they stand with the poor, the downtrodden, and the righteous. But they have a way of showing themselves up as the hypocrites we already know that they are.

Let’s start with “fracking.” Fact: a few years ago, more than 100 Hollywood A-listers signed on to an effort under the banner of Artists Against Fracking to ban hydraulic fracturing. Yet it’s no secret that many of Hollywood’s numerous well-heeled opponents of “fracking” have something of a weakness for private planes and, even in their humbler moments, for large SUVs. It’s not much of an exaggeration to think that some of them probably gobble up more energy in a day than average Americans do in weeks.

But without hydraulic-fracturing technology, oil and gas production in my home state of New Mexico would almost completely dry up. This industry has made New Mexico a major energy producer, a crucial source of revenue and jobs for a state widely recognized as one of the poorest in the country. Fracking has safely opened massive new energy deposits with production concentrated in the Permian Basin, located in southeast New Mexico and shared with Texas. In fact, New Mexico is the third-largest oil-producing state, with over 1 million barrels per day at the end of 2019. One-third of the state’s entire budget is generated by the industry.

Too bad. If the nation follows the advice of Hollywood’s anti-fracking activists, a poor state and its poor residents will be denied the benefits of an important natural resource and simply go without. While fracking remains legal (for now) in New Mexico, Hollywood’s hypocrisy goes far beyond merely advocating against this technology: some of its leading companies have found a way to suck up tax revenues right here in New Mexico that would otherwise be spent on public schools, health care, and other government services.

In an effort to attain the glitz and glamour of Hollywood, New Mexico’s liberal politicians are handing out some of the most generous subsidies available anywhere to Hollywood film companies. That those companies tend to lean liberal is, of course, only a coincidence.

Netflix is the latest production company to bring significant operations to the Land of Enchantment. The streaming company recently announced that it would expand its operations in the state, spending an additional $1 billion in New Mexico over the next 10 years.

That sounds good, but however liberal it may be, the entertainment industry is still the entertainment industry, and the deal comes with a catch. Netflix may be spending in the state, but it will also be receiving a very generous incentive from the New Mexico taxpayer, something of an irony when one-third of the state’s taxes are paid by “wicked” oil and gas.

Netflix (like any film company that operates in New Mexico) is eligible to have 25 percent of its expenses reimbursed by the State. Better yet, the length of the company’s ten-year lease means it “qualifies” under state law to receive an increased reimbursement of 30 percent.

Just to be clear, if Netflix does indeed spend $1 billion over the next decade as it asserts, it could be entitled to checks from the New Mexico Treasury totaling $300 million. If 33.5 percent of New Mexico’s budget comes from oil and gas over that time period, Netflix alone will effectively be receiving $100 million directly from the oil and gas industry.

Of course, if the “keep-it-in-the-ground” wing of the Democratic Party prevails and bans fracking on New Mexico’s federal lands, the state’s oil and gas revenues could plummet, forcing the State’s other taxpayers to pick up more of the bill for Netflix or triggering some sort of crisis in its relationship with the company

Unfortunately, when it comes to subsidies for Netflix, $300 million is just the down payment. The state is also fronting another $17 million in direct incentives to Netflix while the City of Albuquerque is coughing up another $7 million. These funds come from something called the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA), commonly referred to as a “closing fund.” These are payments made by state or local governments to preferred industries. One might believe that in a state as poor as New Mexico (consistently among the nation’s poorest) that taxpayers picking up the bill for 30 percent of a profitable corporation’s business expenses would be enough.

As things seem at the moment, Netflix is going to continue to grow and over time it should create more jobs in New Mexico. That will generate all the usual headlines about how great the company is for the state and its economy, but it will come at a tremendous cost. That cost is not just in lost revenue, but in tax rebates borne primarily by state taxpayers. This subsidy is both unfair and unsustainable.

As one of Hollywood’s biggest businesses, Netflix is a member of that elite group of publicly traded stocks known as the FAANGs (Facebook, Amazon, Apple, Netflix, and Google). Netflix flaunts its rapidly growing profitability, but it is still prepared to consume massive taxpayer subsidies not only from one of the poorest states in the country, but from a state that can only afford to pay out those generous subsidies thanks to the revenues it receives from the oil and gas industry that so much of Hollywood condemns.

Senator Bernie Sanders is still a hero to many in the entertainment industry and, to be fair, he at least takes a principled approach to such corporate welfare. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for many in Hollywood and Democratic politicians like New Mexico governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. She has locked our state in to paying Netflix outrageous sums of money over the next decade at a time of great uncertainty for New Mexico and its economic outlook and thrown away the key. That much of that uncertainty comes from her own party only piles irony upon irony.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility


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What I saw at Calvary Church on Christmas Eve

I never in a million years thought that going to church would be an act of civil disobedience and that holding services would result in fines being imposed, but that  is where things stand these days in New Mexico. The Gov.’s often belligerent spokesman Tripp Stelnicki even called the Christmas Eve gatherings “illegal and selfish.”

I attended the Christmas Eve service held at 3pm with my family. It was definitely “not legal” under the Gov.’s orders, but overwhelming majorities of attendees DID have masks on and seating was in every other row. I actually watched the proceedings outside near a lovely and warm fire but my entire family watched inside and no one is sick or showing signs of illness five days after the fact.

I don’t know where this all goes next. I for one would be willing to let the Gov. send the police in and force them to arrest me and others. It has gotten to that point.  By the way, if others don’t want to attend church or go out in public, they have every right to live that way. It is none of my business. But, if I want to keep living my life that is called freedom and it is something Americans used to care for.

I don’t have pictures of church. My kids took their masks off for pictures with Santa after church though. Also, Skip’s sermon was great. I’m new to Calvary. As a frustrated Catholic I have enjoyed my experience so far at Calvary services and events.


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Ugly COVID 19 federal spending bill specifically prohibits $$ for school choice

Congress has passed a very ugly, bloated, pork-laden “stimulus” (you can read all 5,000+ pages here). Many of the details have been discussed extensively elsewhere.

One of the most troubling aspects of the bill is that it explicitly prohibits funds from being used for educational alternatives to help children whose schools have been shuttered since last March and have been stuck with ineffective “virtual” programs since then. Just which special interest group might have had the political power to get THAT provision inserted?


Here is the actual text of the prohibition from the legislation.



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