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?

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

 

 

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Tipping Point New Mexico episode 259: Federal Stimulus, Deb Haaland at Interior and Oil and Gas, BCSO Won’t Enforce, Tax Hikes

There is a new COVID strain in Europe. Paul and Wally discuss what we know and what is happening now.

Federal stimulus agreement reached. It’s $900 billion and VERY ugly. Here’s some of what’s in it.

BCSO sheriff “won’t enforce unconstitutional laws under COVID response” What does this mean?

Deb Haaland named to head Secretary of Interior. While sympathetic to the idea of a Native American in charge at Interior, her policies would be devastating to New Mexico. Two separate posts on the issue here and here.

According to a new study from the University of Wyoming’s Dr. Timothy Considine, New Mexico would see even steeper revenue losses under the study’s forecasts. The state would lose on average $946 million per year in oil and gas tax revenue in the first five years under a leasing moratorium and on average $1.2 billion per year in tax revenue in the first five years under a drilling ban. A drilling ban would cause the state a $48 billion loss in oil and gas tax revenue over the next 20 years.

PFM Consultants have released a report on New Mexico tax policy. Overall it makes an absurd pitch for massive tax hikes, but there was some useful information in the report.

 

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RGF talks repeal of NM’s Social Security tax

The Rio Grande Foundation backs legislative efforts to repeal the Social Security tax imposed by New Mexico. ANY effort to reduce New Mexicans’ tax burdens would help.

The following article includes several quotes from RGF’s Paul Gessing regarding the City of Carlsbad recently joined the call for repeal of this unnecessary tax. I discuss the chances of such a proposal making its way into law in the article linked above from the Current-Argus.

New Mexico is one of only 13 states that currently assess tax on Social Security income. Unfortunately, New Mexico’s Democrats have moved quite a bit to the left since even the days of Bill Richardson.

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RGF’s Paul Gessing talks New Mexico politics and policy w/ Mick Rich

The following conversation between RGF president Paul Gessing and Mick Rich (former US Senate candidate and owner of a construction business) aired on local television in Albuquerque, NM recently. It is split into four segments of about 10 minutes apiece.

In the first segment Mick and Paul discuss health care reforms made under ObamaCare, why it has failed, and how Biden plans to move forward with the same government-driven philosophy.

In segment two we discuss the evolution and economics of New Mexico’s film industry and its oil and gas industry.

In the third segment we discuss some of the crime issues at play in the City of Albuquerque.

In this segment we discuss the upcoming 2021 legislative session, the Rail Runner, Spaceport, and five things the Legislature SHOULD do to bring prosperity to our state.

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Deb Haaland’s interesting take on climate change

Scientists widely agree that climate change is real. After all, we’ve had ice ages and other major climate shifts over millions of years. And then humans came along. Native Americans managed their environment. In the story below which is from the Los Alamos Monitor and ran in August 2019 Haaland claims that “climate change in the US started when Europeans arrived and started killing the buffalo.”

It’s an interesting take. There is no doubt that killing the bison was a tragedy and undoubtedly had an impact on the climate. That said, I hope the Senate takes a hard look at her views and whether she has scientific underpinnings for her policy views on how to manage federal lands.

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A brief Rio Grande Foundation Analysis of PFM report on New Mexico’s tax structure (Part 2)

Yesterday we said we’d get an analysis of the PFM report on New Mexico’s tax code. As indicated in that post, there is some good information in the report even though we disagree with many of its findings. One of the best points made is the following which is taken directly from the report:Too often the only “equity” discussion that takes place is over “progressive” or “regressive” taxation. The PFM report acknowledges that New Mexico’s gross receipts tax is unfair to competing businesses within the same industries. As the text above points out this bias assists bigger firms and penalizes smaller ones.

Overall, the analysts seemed concern about the gross receipts and specifically argued for NOT raising rates on that tax. Unfortunately, that’s where the restraint went out the window. The report FAILED to mention New Mexico’s heavy (existing) tax burden (7th-highest as a percent of income) and bloated and inefficient government, yet it included numerous MAJOR tax hikes and NO tax cuts. The tax hikes mentioned included:

    • Higher marginal rates at higher income levels.
    • Eliminating the capital gains personal income tax exemption.
    • Re-institute an estate tax.
    • Increase the gas tax rate.
    • Establish a structure for taxing recreational marijuana (we support the policy, but of course this is still more government revenue).
    • Broaden the gross receipts tax base to include food and, for lower income taxpayers while enacting a revenue neutral refundable personal income tax credit.
    • Continue to expand excise taxes to align with new forms of goods or services, such as vapor products.
    • Consider a carbon tax or so-called “market-based approaches.”

While there are elements of some of these ideas that could be part of a broad-based, revenue-neutral tax reform plan, including “shifting greater local funding responsibility to property taxes and away from gross receipts taxes” the report is WAY too focused on generating more money for the State and focuses far too little on spurring economic growth and job creation.

Finally, although the overall report is lacking, one additional bit of good news is that PFM specifically calls out film subsidies. Again, the full text is below directly from the report:

 

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Tipping Point New Mexico episode 258: Dr. Deane Waldman – The Response to COVID-19 and How to Improve U.S. Healthcare System

On this week’s interview, Paul has a wide-ranging discussion on health care issues with Dr. Deane Waldman. Deane is a retired pediatric cardiologist and is an MBA as well. During the first half of the show, he and Paul discuss the response to COVID-19 in the United States and New Mexico. With a background in pathology, Deane has a great deal of information to share about the Virus and its impacts.

In the second part of the show, Dr. Deane and Paul discuss Joe Biden’s plans for American health care, most notably Medicare for All, more broadly speaking. What will Biden’s policies do to American health care if adopted? Be sure to tune in to this fascinating and informative episode.

087 Dr. Deane Waldman - How to Improve US Healthcare | Rio Grande Foundation

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Haaland would be far to the left of Lujan Grisham on energy

UPDATE: Per several news reports, Haaland HAS indeed been chosen to head the US Department of the Interior.

New Mexico women appear to have the inside track in the Biden Administration for Interior Secretary. The post was apparently offered to Gov. Lujan Grisham who turned it down. Now, Albuquerque-area Congresswoman Deb Haaland is being promoted for the job by none other than Speaker Nancy Pelosi.

We at the Rio Grande Foundation have been critics of Lujan Grisham’s economic and COVID policies, but on energy issues, Lujan Grisham is actually a moderate while Haaland is on the far-left wing when it comes to energy issues. If implemented, her stated policies would be a disaster for New Mexico and other energy producing states.

Haaland told The Guardian, “I am wholeheartedly against fracking and drilling on public lands,” she said. She is also a staunch supporter of the Green New Deal.” According to a recent study of the issue, “New Mexico would see even steeper revenue losses under the study’s forecasts. The state would lose on average $946 million per year in oil and gas tax revenue in the first five years under a lease moratorium, and on average $1.2 billion per year in tax revenue in the first five years under a drilling ban.”

Lujan Grisham, on the other hand, voted FOR crude oil exports when she was in Congress. She also has said that she’ll ask for an exemption from any future drilling ban (on federal lands). While Lujan Grisham has said that New Mexico would “transition away from fossil fuels” and she even signed New Mexico’s own version of a “Green New Deal,” she is nowhere near as radical as Deb Haaland when it comes to energy.

If Haaland becomes Secretary of the Interior, energy-producing Western states better watch out!

We didn't wait for the feds': How New Mexico worked to contain Covid - POLITICO

 

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A brief Rio Grande Foundation Analysis of PFM report on New Mexico’s tax structure (Part 1)

Yesterday, a report called “State of New Mexico Tax Structure: Issues and Alternatives”was released by a firm called PFM Consulting. The report is worthy of a detailed analysis and it has generated several stories in the media. 

A few initial thoughts: 1) I’m glad they posted the report at a link that can be easily-accessed by the public and policymakers. 2) As these documents go it is relatively accessible in terms of its language. 3) Taxes are a very important component of public policy, BUT they are one of several policy areas that must be addressed to make New Mexico economically competitive. 4) Analysts and legislators of differing backgrounds can view the same data and have completely different conclusions. While the media have covered some reactions from policymakers, we will offer our insights in a 2nd post to be published tomorrow (December 17).

Here are a few charts taken directly from the report which illustrate New Mexico’s serious economic challenges:

  1. Over the last decade New Mexico’s neighbors saw much faster employment growth although we did outperform Alaska and Wyoming which the report includes by way of further comparison.

2. New Mexico faces deeper poverty challenges than any of its neighbors or Wyoming/Alaska.

3. Related to poverty, New Mexico’s median incomes lag. 

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Left wing lobbyist: “tax cuts hurt the economy”

Whatever your take on the Trump tax cuts or the economy under his watch, it is hard to see how ANYONE can blame the President for the current economic situation. Of course leave it to New Mexico’s leftist advocates like Bill Jordan to do that.

And, whether you think tax cuts are the key to economic growth or merely one component of a broad-based economic reform strategy, not many economists take the position that “tax cuts HURT the economy.” Bill really needs to read “Economics in One Lesson.”

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