Janus decision no obstacle to UNM unionization, but it does protect workers from forced dues payements

At the Rio Grande Foundation we’ve been pretty much silent on the big unionization vote over at UNM. As it turns out the pro-union side won handily. We are skeptical that unionization will solve the serious management issues at UNM, but there are a few important issues we feel need to be pointed out:

  1. The US Supreme Court’s Janus v. AFSCME decision allowing government employees (like UNM employees) “right to work status” did not deter or prevent unionization. Many supporters of forced unionism complained that the Court’s decision was meant to “destroy” public sector unions. It did nothing of the sort and government employee unions remain among the most influential interest groups in New Mexico and other states.
  2. Good news for UNM faculty and adjunct faculty! Thanks to the Janus decision if you don’t WANT to join the new union or pay the dues, you don’t have to no matter what you are told by the union organizers and supporters.

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The left’s pathetic defense of “Democracy Dollars”

If you want to check out a completely inept “defense” of Democracy Dollars (the proposal in Albuquerque’s City election to let leftist groups take over local elections), you need to look no further than today’s Albuquerque Journal.

The authors from OLÉ (the new iteration of the discredited group ACORN) attempt to trash Pat Rogers, specifically his involvement in lobbying for the Santolina project. Just to be clear, the Rio Grande Foundation has criticized subsidies for Santolina, but that doesn’t make Democracy Dollars a good idea.

In fact, the limited defense offered claims (with zero evidence) that children will NOT be included. Read the text of Proposition 2 here. The relevant text is below, but there is NO DEFINITION of “eligible resident” in the ordinance. If they wanted to limit it to “registered voters” or even “legal residents 18 years of age or older” those would have been simple fixes.

Costs are based on a similar program in Seattle.

OLÉ would love to have Democracy Dollars because they could send their paid “volunteers” out to harvest them and then distribute them to candidates of their choosing. Early voting starts Saturday.

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Albuquerque Voters Could Lower Their Taxes in Local Election

Early voting in Albuquerque’s municipal elections begins Saturday. Find out where to go here. There are some very important issues on local ballots including bonds and renewal of a 1/4 cent gross receipts tax that is supposed to go for transportation, but 38% of which is diverted to buses.

The fact is that Albuquerque’s tax burdens have gone up dramatically in recent years. City spending has also risen dramatically. It is high time voters got some relief.

RGF president Paul Gessing sat down with KOAT Channel 7 to discuss the issue for a report. You can check that story out by clicking the photo below.

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Lobo/Aggie football and MLG’s plan for “free” college

Back in May the Rio Grande Foundation cheekily proposed merging the UNM and NMSU football programs. This idea generated a great deal of media coverage and some derision from local sports talk shows. But, less than six months later, a few developments have occurred that indicate we may have been ahead of our time in talking about SOME kind of shift in New Mexico’s Division I football programs.

1) In addition to millions of taxpayer dollars both NMSU and UNM athletic departments receive approximately $3.5 million in student fees annually. Gov. MLG plans to include fees in her “free” college proposal. Will accountability for athletic department budgets simply go out the window under her proposal?

2) UNM and NMSU both STINK in football this year. The Lobos are 2-5 with one win against a lower division team and one against the NMSU Aggies. They got destroyed 66-14 and play teams with winning records the rest of the way through the season. Those may be the only 2 wins they have this season while the Aggies are 0-7 with losses of 52-7 and 62-10 to Washington State and Alabama consecutively. Out of 130 Division I football teams, the Lobos currently rank 122 and the Aggies rank 128. 

3) The idea of paying players is catching on (it has been adopted in California and is being discussed here in New Mexico). Yes, the idea is “endorsements, but if you don’t think the “big boys” are going to make sure their players cash in, then you don’t know college sports.

This idea has the potential to force UNM and NMSU out of the “big money” game of college athletics entirely or at least shift it out of football’s top division. On the other hand, unless the Gov.’s plan has protections against “free” college money being used to support sports programs through higher student fees, look out!


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Santa Fe’s wild spending rumpus is just getting started

Last year the Legislature increased general fund spending by a robust 12%. But, with oil and gas money flowing into the State at record levels, state agencies are looking to further increase their budgets in Fiscal Year 2021 (which will be discussed by the Legislature in January). Funding requests have so far proposed a cumulative spending increase of 17 percent from the General Fund over current funding levels. This 17 percent increase does not include funding requests for Public School Support and from higher education institutions.

Here are a few year-over-year request highlights from the extremely ambitious spending agendas of New Mexico’s government agencies.

Attorney General’s office                          20 percent increase

State Auditor’s office                                37 percent increase

Secretary of State’s office                         28 percent increase

State Treasurer’s office                              11 percent increase

Governor’s office                                       10 percent increase

General Services Department                    20 percent increase

Taxation and Revenue Department             9 percent increase

Tourism Department                                  43 percent increase

Economic Development Dept.                   20 percent increase

Spaceport Authority                                 260 percent increase (that is not a typo)

Regulation and Licensing Dept.               11 percent increase

Cultural Affairs Department                     14 percent increase

Administrative Office of the Courts         19 percent increase

Administrative Office of DAs                    39 percent increase

State Racing Commission                         62 percent increase

DFA Special Appropriations                      22 percent increase

State Engineer                                           26 percent increase

New Mexico Livestock Board                   104 percent increase

Workforce Solutions Department              20 percent increase

Human Services Dept.                                11 percent increase ($126.8 million increase)

Department of Environment                      72 percent increase

Public Education Department                    11 percent increase

Higher Education Department                   58 percent increase

Maurice Sendak exhibit

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A run through the confusing (and expensive) Albuquerque ballot

Early voting for this Fall’s municipal elections starts this Saturday (October 19). A full list of early voting locations can be found here. For those of you who MUST vote on Election Day, that is November 5.

We at the Rio Grande Foundation decided to take a look at the ballot for this fall’s election. There have been some big changes including the date of the election (local elections used to be in October) and the inclusion of summaries instead of actual ballot language for some complicated and important issues.

Here are a few of the critical issues on the election:

School Board: Peggy Mueller Aragon is a reformer while her opponent, Lauretta Harris is the status quo union-sponsored candidate.  If you are happy with the way APS is currently managed, Ms. Harris will keep the unions in charge of APS, but if you think the District is in dire need of reform, Mueller Aragon will carry that banner.

Voters can reduce the burdensome and regressive gross receipts tax this election. They will be asked to renew the Transportation gross receipts tax of ¼ percent, 38% of which will be spent on wasteful transit projects.

BONDS You can read about all of the proposed bonds here.

One problem with ALL bonds is that 1% of the money is diverted to “art” projects. That may seem like a trivial amount of money, but on the $5 million housing bond alone $50,000 will be diverted to pay for so-called “art.”

General Obligation: Senior, Family Community Center, Homeless Bonds totaling $21,705,000 including money for new homeless shelter that even homeless advocates have concerns about.

Energy and Water Conservation: $10,420,000
$3,855,000 of this will be allocated to solar panels and other so-called “renewable energy” project at City facilities.

Metro Redevelopment is $8,000,000, $5,000,000 of that would be for the proposed Railyards redevelopment which is estimated to cost between $50 and $80 million just to prepare the site.

Public Transportation: $3,130,000 for Albuquerque’s unpopular bus system.

Affordable Housing $5,050,000, $5,000,000 of which would be used to build a new homeless facility (see above).

CNM wants passage of an $84,000,000 bond. $7,000,000 of this would be used for new buildings relating to New Mexico’s heavily-subsidized film industry.

Prop. 1: Increases money available for public financing to $1.75 from $1.00

Prop 2: Democracy Dollars which will allow the creation of a new voucher system providing $25 vouchers for all “residents” of Albuquerque to contribute to various campaigns. Several aspects of this proposal are concerning.

Two APS bonds totaling $290 million (APS is poorly managed with high construction costs)

Image result for albuquerque ballots

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Tipping Point New Mexico Episode 137: Michael Johnson – Questions About Governor’s 52 MPG Plan

On this week’s interview, Paul sits down with Michael Johnson. Michael has a fascinating background in business and once studied economics under both Milton Friedman and Paul Samuelson.

But Mike is also a car enthusiast and collector. And he has some serious questions about Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s plans to take New Mexico vehicles to 52 miles per gallon by 2022.

Mike is a wealth of information and provided numerous links to find out more details about the challenge of getting automobiles to run at such high efficiency while also satisfying consumer needs.









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What are Democracy Dollars Supporters Afraid of (and new website sheds light on issue)

It seems that left-wing advocates of the proposed “Democracy Dollars” ballot measure (proposition 2 on the ballot) would prefer to have as little public debate and discussion on the issue as possible. Rather, they seem to believe that the nice sounding name and generous ballot language (no tax increase!) will carry them to victory. It seems particularly odd that a group of advocates who claim to be so concerned about the influence of “dark money” is also trying to keep voters “in the dark” about the reality of their election changes.

If any leader from one of the myriad groups currently supporting “Democracy Dollars” please send us a note: info@riograndefoundation.org We want to have a public debate on the issues because we believe voters should know both sides of important issues like this one.

At the Rio Grande Foundation we have tremendous concerns about increasing the generosity of public election financing, especially when that involves distributing $25 vouchers to every “resident” of Albuquerque, whatever that means. The addition of even more tax money into the mix will do nothing to keep outside groups and other interests from spending money on election campaigns. In fact, the initiative will empower powerful (predominantly left-wing) groups that have the capacity to collect vouchers for their preferred candidates.

You can read more about the proposal on the Foundation’s website nowaynm.org which we have dedicated to educating Albuquerque voters on this important issue. On Election Day Albuquerque voters should tell local politicians “Go Fund Yourself.”

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