New Mexico falls further behind in latest economic freedom report

According to the 2021 edition of the Economic Freedom Index of North America report from the free market Canadian think tank Fraser Institute, New Mexico, in calendar year 2019 (the first year of the Lujan Grisham Administration), slid from 42nd (in last year’s report which used data from the final year of the Martinez Adm.) down to 46th.

While New Mexico has long lagged its neighbors and most of the nation in economic freedom, the 2019 legislative session saw a massive uptick in government spending, tax hikes, newly-imposed regulations, and numerous other policies that make New Mexico less business-friendly. All of New Mexico’s neighbors are among the most economically-free states in the nation.

Not surprisingly, most economically-free half of jurisdictions have higher incomes than do the least economically-free jurisdictions like New Mexico. It is not surprising that New Mexico is among the most impoverished states in the nation.

New Hampshire, Tennessee, Florida, and Texas, were among the MOST economically-free states in the latest report (full rankings below) while California and New York were among the few states that trailed New Mexico. Click on either image in this post for the FULL report:


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What’s Virgin Galactic REALLY paying at Spaceport America

In testimony before an interim legislative committee yesterday Spaceport America yet AGAIN made a plea for more tax money (an additional infusion of $2 million) to keep the facility afloat. Unfortunately, it is hard to verify exactly what Virgin Galactic is currently paying to use the facility.

At the hearing and in media reports, the facility’s executive director claims that Virgin Galactic is paying nearly $6 million annually to the State of New Mexico.

But, according to a modified lease agreement signed on December 21, 2018, Virgin Galactic is paying an annual lease of just $2.3 million annually (details are spelled out in the link above). BUT, an item in the lease states, “In the event VG conducts no revenue-generating spaceflights for a period of three (3) or more consecutive calendar months, VG shall pay NMSA a user fee of fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) per month” (that’s just $600,000 annually).

Since Virgin Galactic has NEVER taken a paying customer to space, it would seem that they are paying rent of just $600,000 annually.

There’s a gaping difference between $6 million and $2.3 million or $600K). Where is the extra money supposed to be coming from? And what evidence do we have that ANY money is actually coming in?

How much has Spaceport America cost taxpayers? - KVIA

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Trever Cartoon roasts PNM

Sometimes a few words in a cartoon are as effective (or more) than thousands of words. This Trever cartoon from the Sunday Albuquerque Journal really says what we’ve been writing about and discussing for months.

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Contrasting Colorado’s Polis & New Mexico’s MLG on COVID

Over the weekend Colorado Gov. Jared Polis made news (at least in New Mexico) when he said that he would NOT reimpose a statewide mask mandate citing New Mexico’s high COVID infection rate (despite its mandate) as a reason for not doing it.

What was lost in the coverage is the fact that Gov. Polis has ALSO made “monclonal antibody” treatment a top priority.

Antibody treatment early in the disease’s course can reduce the odds of hospitalization by about 70%, but vaccines lower the odds by about 90%. Still, if a person didn’t get vaccinated, antibody treatment is their best option, Polis said.

“We need every bed that we have in our hospitals,” he said during a news briefing.

What about monoclonal antibody treatment in New Mexico? We searched the Gov.’s website and found no statements about it in recent months. The Albuquerque Journal’s most recent article was from January of 2021. There IS information available from the Department of Health which includes information on infusion centers and who qualifies for the treatment.

Monoclonal antibody treatments for COVID: doctor tells you what you need to  know | WJLA

 

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Halting federal oil and gas leasing helps no one

Recently, global leaders gathered in Glasgow for the COP26 climate summit. It was here that nations, both large and small, made commitments to combat and slow the effects of climate change. It should concern us that many of the proposals and agreements target some of our most critically important industries, including oil and gas, putting jobs, affordable fuels and energy and our economy at risk.

The United States has tried this tactic and it consistently fails. Most recently, President Biden agreed to and implemented sweeping government regulations related to the environment without fully understanding the impacts upon communities in energy states like New Mexico.

Take, for example, the recent ban on oil and natural gas leasing on public lands and in offshore waters. Despite a groundswell of opposition from states who said the ban could cause significant community harm and economic loss, the Department of Interior pressed forward with its leasing moratorium, seemingly without even considering its consequences. 2021 will mark the first year in decades no onshore federal leasing auctions will have occurred across the US.

Federal lands currently compose nearly 35% of New Mexico’s total area, and a federal oil and gas leasing ban would immediately threaten the welfare and future of our state. We would lose critical jobs at a time when the economy is reeling, and our unemployment rate remains one of the highest in the nation. At the same time, ban would eliminate critical tax revenues that pay for schools, hospitals, roads and other infrastructure, keeping the government from dipping into the pockets of taxpayers.

Fortunately, this hasty decision was overturned in court after 12 states sued the Department of Interior. But it still represents a dangerous trend we see on both sides of the aisle—government representatives putting politics and big government over the best interests of our people—and it is unacceptable.

Moreover, sweeping government policies such as a leasing ban rarely work as intended. Instead, they hamstring businesses and stifle innovation, hurt our middle- and lower-income citizens and communities and always have unintended consequences. And it is important to keep this in mind as we consider ways to address climate change, especially for states like New Mexico.

It should be clear to U.S. officials that working together with energy companies, not actively against, will be the best path to a cleaner, more sustainable future. Already, energy companies are heavily investing in innovative solutions, like carbon capture and storage, to reduce emissions while protecting jobs and revenues and keeping energy costs low. We should continue encouraging this type of collaboration and innovation between government and private industry to effectively balance economic growth with climate goals.

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352 Angelo Artuso – Attorney Representing LANL Employees in Covid Mandate Lawsuit

Angelo Artuso is a pro-liberty attorney based in Albuquerque. He is currently representing a group of Los Alamos National Lab Employees In a Federal Lawsuit Over COVID-19 mandates at the Lab on the basis of religious discrimination.

Paul and Angelo discuss numerous legal issues regarding vaccine mandates but also consider the broader Liberty issues at stake and the performance of the judiciary in general throughout the COVID-19 pandemic.
You don’t want to miss this timely conversation.

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California’s Gavin Newsome deems natural gas “zero carbon”

Considering that New Mexico’s Gov. and Legislature seem to adopt whatever the latest leftist California is, it is always important to keep an eye on what happens on the “left coast.”

This article from Forbes gives me hope that New Mexico may not be crazy enough to follow through with the push to “unreliables” like wind and solar.

Apparently in California the idea is to just “deem” natural gas a “zero carbon” fuel and move on. As we noted a few months ago California recently built several new natural gas plants in an effort to shore up the reliability of their electrical grid.

While natural gas is certainly a low-carbon fuel, unlike nuclear it is NOT zero-carbon. But, perhaps this is a sign that when grid reliability and the “green” agenda butt up against each other even the most “progressive” politician will decide to keep the lights on.

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Episode 351: COVID-19 Spreads, Film Set Blame, Court Rules on Vaccine Rules, Infrastructure Bill and more

On this week’s podcast, Paul and Wally discuss the spread of COVID19 in New Mexico and the high levels of infections occurring in New Mexico. They also discuss the differing media reaction to Florida and states in the Mountain West.

NM Film workers place blame for issues on set w/ out-of-state-leaders. There are also workplace issues with at least this movie. How does this square with New Mexico’s highly-subsidized film industry? 

Biden’s vaccine mandate for businesses w/ 100 or more employees officially put forth and immediately gets placed on hold by 5th district judge. The Administration is still pushing businesses to comply.

Biden gets help from some House Republicans to pass a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. Paul and Wally discuss some details on the bill and the poor politics for the GOP.

Gavin Newsome has declared natural gas “zero carbon.” 

In this supplemental interview Paul does a short interview with Zachary Taylor, director of the American Recyclable Plastic Bag Alliance, about the changes the Keller Administration has changed its plastic bag ban. and why they are economically and environmentally harmful.

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RGF discusses NM’s slow unemployment recovery w/ KRQE Channel 13

Throughout the COVID 19 situation New Mexico’s economy has generally lagged behind the rest of the nation. A new report from Wallethub shines some light on the latest data which places New Mexico 48th in terms of its recovery since the start of COVID. Things are not improving much as we dropped to 49th week-to-week.

Here is the story from KRQE. Charts below are directly from Wallethub.

Source: WalletHub
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Film workers on “Rust” set blame out-of-state-leaders

Nobody has fought New Mexico’s wasteful film subsidy program more vociferously and for longer than the Rio Grande Foundation. That said, we were shocked and horrified at the deadly shooting that recently took place on the set of a film outside of Santa Fe.

There are still a lot of details to uncover, but according to a recent Albuquerque Journal article which details some of the issues on-set, there were some serious well-known problems even before the shooting.

“From not getting paid on time – some waited nearly seven weeks for their paychecks – to the day-to-day schedules never finding a routine.” This is of course an industry that gets reimbursed for 25 to 35% of its expenses in New Mexico and yet they can’t pay their workers on time?

“The production refused to pay for hotels for crew members – most of whom drove from nearly an hour away from the set – after working long shifts.” Again, this sounds unsafe and is hard to square with the subsidies given.

“Two ‘Rust’ crew members laid the blame for some of the issues in the production on certain out-of-state leaders.”

Is an industry that fails to pay its workers basic benefits and brings in leadership from out of state (not just talent) really a sensible recipient of massive amounts of New Mexico tax dollars?

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