How long will this two weeks REALLY last? Wally and Paul believe it will be quite a bit longer. There is a lot to discuss on this important issue.
Albuquerque City Council pushed the vote on mandatory sick leave back by a week. Paul and Wally agree that imposing such a policy under the current more thorough lockdown would be even more problematic than before.
Oddly, while Gov. Lujan Grisham constantly tells us that her anti-COVID efforts are based “on the science” Leading health bodies like the CDC have recommended in-person learning. And, as a November 16 email distributed nationally from the New York Times put it:
The one indoor activity that appears to present less risk is school, especially elementary school. Why? Young children seem to spread the virus less often than adults do. “Research has shown that if you put social-distancing protocols in place, school is actually quite a safe environment,” Andreas Schleicher, who studies schools for the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development in Paris, told NPR.
Closing schools and switching entirely to remote learning, on the other hand, has big social costs. Children are learning less, and many parents, mostly mothers, have dropped out of the labor force. The U.S. is suffering from both of these problems and from a raging pandemic.
The folks at Voices for Children have never met a government program they didn’t want to expand. They want higher taxes (especially on higher income New Mexicans) but their big-spending plans are their “bread and butter.”
What you don’t hear from any of them is any detailed plans for replacing the jobs and tax revenues of oil and gas. The best you get from Jimenez is the following platitude, “Our legislators need to tap into our state’s well of ingenuity and knowledge and figure out how to accelerate the diversification of our economy and state revenue sources.”
Now that the weather has turned colder and drive-in movies are really not a thing in New Mexico, good luck watching movies outside the home. But, in an illustration of the political nature of the Gov.’s ongoing COVID 19 policy, New Mexico’s film industry will continue to work under their previously-negotiated agreement with the Gov.
One industry that is NOT being considered “essential” this time around is real estate. Despite the lockdowns, real estate in New Mexico (mostly residential) remains very hot as people from high cost states flee those places as they can now work remotely.
Golf courses which have operated safely (no known cases of COVID) since they were last shut down by the Gov. have also been shuttered.
The Gov.’s latest 2 week shutdown order again takes the “one-size-fits-all” approach that has gotten us to where we are now. As one local fitness facility owner told KRQE Channel 13, “As a small business owner, we’ve worked so unbelievably hard to keep our studios open, disinfected, socially distanced, so we are doing all the right things, the fitness industry takes [COVID] very, very seriously, and if you look at those [Rapid Response] watch lists, we’re not on it. I don’t care if you’re a big box gym [or] a teeny tiny Orangetheory. We’re not on it.”
Finally, Katharine has written about New Mexico’s plans for universal pre-K and, with the results of the recent election, Paul notes that there can be no doubt that the Legislature will tap the permanent fund and institute such a program. Katharine shares why this will not solve the State’s educational attainment challenges.
With cases spiraling out of control in New Mexico (despite a mask mandate and many businesses STILL closed since March) New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham has imposed a strict lock down (supposedly for just two weeks).
Despite the supposedly critical nature of this new crackdown it doesn’t start until Monday. Restaurants and recreational facilities are among the long list of businesses being shut down for the two week period although it is hard to believe the restrictions will actually be lifted by then.
Will the new restrictions positively impact the spread of COVID 19? With the spread having increased pretty consistently since early October the exponential spread is both far worse than ever and happening at a rate that would be hard to keep up.
So, with so few school districts serving those who desire in-person education, what choice do parents have? Gov. MLG and the union-dominated political power structure of the State has been implacably opposed to helping parents and families as they face dire challenges in educating their children thanks to the pandemic and the shutdown of in-person teaching.
In fact, New Mexico sued the Trump Administration to stop ANYCARES Act funding from being directed to non-public schools, other states (including two of New Mexico’s neighbors) have found creative ways to directly help families impacted by the shutdown of in-person learning in many school districts.
Oklahoma is providing $30 million from the CARES Act to support families impacted by the Virus-induced shutdowns. “These programs will allow for students and families of diverse backgrounds to access the quality resources they need in order to continue their education journey amid the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Gov. Stitt.
Idaho has created a $50 million program using CARES Act dollars to spent on eligible educational materials, devices and services. Parents can apply for benefits totaling $1,500 per eligible student and a maximum award of $3,500 per family.
Texas used $30 million to help special needs students whose families have been forced to deal with a difficult situation in the pandemic. Families of some students with disabilities may be eligible for $1,500 per child in aid to use toward services including tutoring, therapy and digital resources.
On this week’s podcast, Paul and Wally go through this past Tuesday’s election results at the federal and state levels. How did Paul and Wally do in their predictions? Trump is not giving up. Georgia will have two runoff elections that could determine partisan control of the Senate. Here in New Mexico Wally and Paul note the high turnout and the challenges that creates for conservatives here in NM. Mark Ronchetti acquitted himself well, Yvette Herrell won her CD 2 race, but Speaker Egolf says he’ll redistrict CD 2. Can he do it?
Also, if the results hold in the presidential race, will Gov. Lujan Grisham leave New Mexico to work for the Biden Administration? Paul and Wally discuss the upcoming 2021 New Mexico Legislature and some of their likely priorities which could include marijuana legalization, tapping the Land Grant Permanent fund, and tax hikes?
Might they pass a statewide sick leave mandate? Will they directly hit the oil and gas industry? Finally, what will the 60-day Legislature look like? Will it be in-person or virtual and how will that work for a 60-day session?
Gov. MLG’s latest COVID 19 update included no new restrictions. UNM and NMSU athletics are heading toward conflict w/Gov. as they are the ONLY two men’s Division 1 basketball teams in the nation that cannot currently practice?
Albuquerque City Council will be taking up yet another mandatory paid sick leave proposal. As currently drafted it will apply to 10 or more employees starting in January 2021 and 3 or more employees starting in January 2022.
Finally, RGF attempts to get ahold of 40-day enrollment numbers from the Public Education Department.
Recently, RGF president Paul Gessing had the opportunity to discuss the 2020 election results with Bob Clark on 770 KKOB radio. Then he sat down with Bob Gore of the East Mountain Conservatives also to discussing the results.
The Rio Grande Foundation signed this opinion piece along with numerous other business groups. The Sick leave ordinance is being introduced at the ABQ City Council meeting on Monday, November 9, 2020.
Back in July, Darin Sand, vice president for development at Goodman Realty, told the Albuquerque Journal “We are diversifying and looking to other cities and states in terms of future investments, and I think that’s smart … because of the political environment here.”
He was one of several local business owners who expressed concerns about their ability to do business in Albuquerque in the article, “ABQ businesses manifest financial ruin.” The story highlighted in stark detail the impacts of the economic lockdown. It also showed ways in which state and local economic policies make life difficult for local businesses.
Yet the Albuquerque City Council will be bringing up the issue of a paid sick leave mandate. This comes on top of a minimum wage increase passed in 2019 by the N.M. Legislature that will take the city’s lowest wage from $9.35 an hour to $10.50 an hour starting in January. That’s a 12% increase.
Not many local businesses have achieved 12% growth this year. In fact, the list of local business closures in recent months, due mostly to COVID-19, is long and growing fast. Does the City Council really want to hasten the demise of even more of the stores and restaurants that make our city and state unique?
Albuquerque voters rejected a paid sick leave mandate in 2017. And the City Council rightly decided to put off the issue back in June of this year. It is hard to see what has changed that would merit the imposition of yet another increase in the costs of doing business.
If anything, with the state’s economic lockdown dragging on and Albuquerque’s unemployment rate elevated, the state of most small businesses is even more precarious than it was this summer. A widely-acknowledged trend to arise from the COVID 19 pandemic is that many big corporations are doing fine or even better than before, while small businesses are struggling. Numerous local businesses have yet to reopen at all since March, and yet the City Council is considering imposing additional costs and regulations on them.
The ongoing COVID situation should not be an excuse to impose more costs on local businesses. At the beginning of the outbreak Congress passed the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA), which requires employers with less than 500 employees to provide paid sick leave or expanded family and medical leave for specified reasons related to COVID-19. This paid leave is then paid back to the employer by the federal government. This is effective through Dec. 31 and likely to be extended with the next federal relief package.
It is, of course, small, family businesses that will be most negatively impacted by another costly policy. That’s because unlike big corporations, each new mandate makes doing business incrementally harder as they have less cushion and are not diversified in numerous areas of the country.
Valuing small business is why we’ll all celebrate Small Business Saturday later this month. While many of us have enjoyed the ability to have products and services delivered during this pandemic, it is also worth noting that Amazon doesn’t sponsor many youth baseball and soccer teams around town.
While businesses in Albuquerque face numerous difficulties, we do value our workers and want them to be healthy. In fact, workers often stick with small businesses because they more resemble a family. We know COVID-19 has impacted all of us, not just our bottom lines, but our friends, families and employees. We’ve heard “We’re all in this together.” If that is truly the case, now is definitely not the time for Albuquerque’s City Council to put more regulations on struggling local businesses.
On this week’s podcast, Paul interviews James Taylor, president of the Heartland Institute. Based in Chicago, IL, Heartland’s mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems, but it is most known for its work on energy and climate issues.
Taylor joins the podcast to discuss Joe Biden’s energy policies and specifically his attacks on “fracking” and the oil and gas industries in general and how those policies would actually harm the environment. Taylor and Gessing discuss Biden’s version of the “Green New Deal” as well as efforts in California and New Mexico to move away from gasoline-powered vehicles.