Albuquerque City Council Rejects Harmful Mandates…for now

In a moment of sanity Monday night Albuquerque’s City Council voted down a proposal to offer “hazard pay” to force businesses to pay workers during the pandemic more and a separate plan that would have created a new mandatory sick leave plan was withdrawn.

The sick leave ordinance would have required businesses that are within Albuquerque’s city limits to give full-time employees 80 hours of sick pay until the end of the year and create a new paid sick leave mandate. 80 hours of sick pay would be 2 full weeks during the last 25 or so weeks of the year.

The Council’s reasonableness is welcome, but of course we are not out of the woods yet when it comes to mandatory paid sick leave. Voters have previously rejected such plans and yet Councilors like Ike Benton keep pushing the issue. At least for now businesses that have been hammered by the economic shutdown, destructive riots, the loss of Balloon Fiesta and the State Fair, and many other economic drivers won’t face additional costs…for now.

Members of Albuquerque business community oppose hazard pay, sick leave proposals

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American Thinker article deconstructs Spaceport America

Charles Sullivan writing at the popular American Thinker website takes apart Spaceport America in a recent column. He also generously mentions the Rio Grande Foundation and our tireless efforts to oppose and shed light on the poor prospects for the facility.

Yes, as reported, Virgin Galactic had a 2nd successful “glide” landing last week, but that is a very long way indeed from regular commercial space launches that take customers to the edge of space.

While we at the Rio Grande Foundation share the hopes of all New Mexicans that successful launches will eventually take place at the facility, it was always a mistake for the political leadership of our state to spend hundreds of millions of our tax dollars on the facility which has now been open for nearly a decade.

When will Virgin Galactic launch its first group of paying customers? I’d bet the farm it won’t be 2020. Maybe 2021 or 2022? The fact is that we have no idea and neither do they. A decade in and Charles Sullivan’s critique is relevant when the discussion turns to FUTURE taxpayer-financed projects.

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Tipping Point NM 209 Jason Espinoza – Special Session Review and ABQ Sick Leave

On this week’s podcast interview Paul talks to Jason Espinoza. Jason does lobbying in the New Mexico Legislature as well as at the City of Albuquerque.

Jason and Paul discuss the recently-completed special session of the Legislature which resulted in various budget cuts as well as some assistance for small businesses and police/criminal justice reforms. Overall Paul and Jason agree that, despite serious transparency issues/concerns the Session was reasonably successful.

Then, Paul and Jason turn their attention to the sick leave mandate being considered in the City of Albuquerque and how that anti-business ordinance would hit businesses at a time when many of them are just recovering from being shut down or are STILL shut down by the Governor’s orders.

Who We Are — KW Consulting

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Paul discusses the recent special session, school reopening, and loss of 2020 Balloon Fiesta with Jim Williams

Paul Gessing

Rio Grande Foundation President, Paul Gessing reviews the following hot-button political issues in New Mexico over the past three weeks:

  1. The economic impact of canceling the Albuquerque Balloon Fiesta estimated to be $187,000,000. What does it mean to lose that event? Does it mean the Fair won’t happen either?
  2. What is the latest from the Governor’s office about re-opening New Mexico? Her news conference is scheduled for 3:00 pm this afternoon on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/GovMLG.
  3. The New Mexico Legislature recently met in a special session without allowing the public to attend. What happened in the NM Supreme Court case that allowed this to happen? What happened in the Special Session itself?
  4. Paul and Jim discuss the current protests and what they are attempting to achieve.
  5. What will schools look like this fall? https://errorsofenchantment.com/what-will-new-mexico-schools-look-like-this-fall/
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NM Budget “fix” diverted CARES Act Funding from K-12 (despite COVID 19 requirements)

The Rio Grande Foundation is no shill for higher spending on the state’s top-heavy, bloated, and ineffective K-12 system, but as New Mexico students return to school this fall there is no question that costs will rise as PED, districts, and schools deal with the fallout of COVID 19.

Justified or no, that fallout includes mandatory masks for all students and staff, “staggered” schedules, virtual learning, and temperature reading before entry to the school. All of these will be expensive.

But, through a “swap” the Democrat-controlled Legislature (with the support of a handful of Senate Republicans) took $44 million earmarked under the CARES Act for schools to deal with COVID 19 and shifted it to general spending. Of course, while the Legislature was busy reducing funding to an education system that faces both a lawsuit (Yazzie) AND an unprecedented reality of dealing with COVID 19, they saw fit to keep $300 of the $320 million earmarked for a NEW early childhood permanent fund and $5 million for the Gov.’s “free” college scheme. 

The likely upshot is that when the Legislature convenes in 2021 the K-12 system will be dealing with a funding shortfall and Gov. and Democrats in the Legislature will demand tax increases or the use of permanent fund money to make ends meet.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's $9 billion budget passes – Political Cortadito

 

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Tracking and comparing federal COVID 19 spending in New Mexico

KOAT TV Channel 7 and the Rio Grande Foundation are both tracking COVID 19 spending in New Mexico. You can find an interactive chart for New Mexico and other states here.

Notably, New Mexico’s COVID 19 spending is concentrated in areas of the State that have had serious impacts from the Virus. Also, New Mexico has received MUCH more money from the Feds than other states including those of similar populations (like Nebraska).

You can click on the screenshot below or click here to watch the story.


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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 208: Balloon Fiesta Cancelled, Schools to Open, Special Session and More

On this week’s discussion, many topics including: Balloon Fiesta canceled and with it the $187 million annual impact. Will the State Fair and other events be next?

On Friday David Scrase put New Mexico’s opening on hold for 2 more weeks. What metrics are they using anyway?  WalletHub study reports that New Mexico is the state with the most coronavirus restrictions.

Albuquerque’s two “dollar theaters” have closed permanently.

The Legislature met (in relative secret). What happened and what about the NM Supreme Court case that allowed this to happen?

New Mexico is 50th again in Kids Count Report. What will schools look like this fall? We may have a better understanding than before.

It’s back…Albuquerque’s mandatory paid sick leave could be voted on as early as June 29th.

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MLG Hides the football (again) on reopening New Mexico

There’s no doubt that New Mexico’s reopening has been chaotic and seemingly based on mere whims as opposed to science. On Friday with the Legislature’s special session taking most of the media attention, David Scrase, the Gov’s health/COVID 19 “guru” held his own press conference (without the Gov.) to tell New Mexicans that the reopening of our State will be on hold for at least two weeks (from July 1).

Of course, based on the Gov.’s original phased opening plan which was released back in late April we are WAY behind in terms of reopening. As the screen shot below shows, the original plan was for theaters, bars, and casinos to have opened in early June.

Also, as we have noted elsewhere, there are STILL numerous businesses and services that seem to have fallen through the cracks: studio gyms (like yoga and pilates), amusement parks, swimming pools, entertainment centers, wineries, and more continue to be shut down with no reopening in sight. Churches remain at 25% capacity.

Is there a rhyme or reason to the Administration’s policies? If so it is hard to tell. At the Rio Grande Foundation and along with Power The Future NM we released a plan several months ago to “Fairly Open” New Mexico. Of course, as someone from out of state recently complained with regard to this situation (and a planned meeting here), “Your state does not make it easy to find info. LOL!” Before this post was even finalized we found out that the International Balloon Fiesta has been canceled for 2020. Major events with large numbers of people would be tricky under COVID 19 circumstances, but one wishes we had a clearer path forward than the one Gov. Lujan Grisham’s Administration has given us.

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What will New Mexico schools look like this fall?

New Mexico’s School Reentry Task Force has made its recommendations for how schools will look this fall. If the Gov. adopts them the educational experiences of the State’s children will look dramatically different and I suspect that many more students will opt for school choice or even home school options. KOB TV has a story here. The full recommendations are here.

Among the most important recommendations are:

  • All students and staff wear masks;
  • Take temperatures of all students and staff;
  • Maintain 6 feet of social distancing;
  • Avoid field trips;
  • Staggered attendance.

There are numerous questions and points to be made about this. Obviously the mask issue is a big one. Wearing a mask for long periods of time is uncomfortable for disciplined adults. Getting young children and teenagers will be a major challenge.

Maintaining social distancing is also going to be a deal breaker. For young people the social aspect of school is a major component of the entire experience.

Staggered attendance sounds like a good idea, but the real result for parents would likely be days spent hauling kids back and forth from school. Admittedly child care is a big part of what parents get out of education. Forcing them to run students to and from school throughout the day is not going to please anyone.

Will non-public school or charter schools be more innovative or open than these recommendations provide? Will home schooling experience an unprecedented boom as many expect?

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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 207: Representative Rebecca Dow – Elections, Special Session, Beef, and Elephant Butte

On this week’s interview podcast, Paul interviews Rep. Rebecca Dow. Paul and Rebecca discuss the recent primary election results and the major changes that will be taking place in Santa Fe in 2021. They also discuss the impending special session of the New Mexico Legislature and what will or won’t happen. At the time of recording, they were not privy to the New Mexico Supreme Court’s decision NOT to open the Roundhouse to public participation in the session.

Finally, Rebecca and Paul discuss the situation at Elephant Butte Lake State Park which is in Rebecca’s district and how that facility is being opened by the State. They also discuss the possibility of state meat inspections and how that could help New Mexico based ranchers.

Rebecca Dow (3) - Rebecca Dow for State Representative

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