Leave it up to the “leadership” of a City already distracted by stark public safety issues in a State that is embarking upon a controversial special session after a long period of economically-devastating “lockdown” to decide “now is the time to impose a costly new sick leave mandate on local businesses.”
You can read about the proposal (although it is complicated and unclear) in the Albuquerque Journal.
The LAST thing that businesses (many of which remain shut down) already struggling to recover from the unprecedented impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Forcing businesses to pay out significant amounts at a time when revenue is way down will lead to more businesses closing and more
lost jobs for our city.
The Special Session starts June 18 and there is going to be a lot on the agenda for the Legislature to consider in a very short time and with minimal public involvement.
For starters, there is the budget which is the primary reason for the Session in the first place. The executive budget framework includes cuts to state agency budgets, grants to local governments and sovereign nations and a preservation of a portion of the pay raises that had been scheduled for educators while using the state’s unprecedented reserves and federal funding to patch the budget hole created by the shutdown of New Mexico’s economy and the COVID-19 pandemic.
RGF’s take: It is important that the bloated budget passed in 2020 be adjusted, but it appears that the Gov. and the Legislature will wait on the 2021 session to make most of the hard choices about further cuts to New Mexico’s government.
Require police to wear cameras, ban chokehold restraints and make officers’ disciplinary history a matter of public record under the state’s Inspection of Public Records Act. She is also asking lawmakers to establish a commission to evaluate ending qualified immunity for police officers, a legal doctrine that helps protect officers from civil lawsuits. (RGF does not take a position on these issues although a commission to study qualified immunity is worth convening).
Authorize county clerks, during a public health emergency, to mail ballots to registered voters without requiring the voter to fill out an application first. Ballots would go to voters with a current address, the governor said, and voters and election officials could track the ballots’ progress through the mail. (RGF has serious concerns about all-mail voting).
Waive penalties and interest for small businesses and individuals who are unable to pay their property and gross receipts taxes on time. (This is a good move)
Grant the administration extra flexibility to help businesses during an emergency by, for example, allowing liquor delivery or electronic notary services. (This has merit, but details are necessary because there are potential pitfalls inherent in empowering ANY governor)
Direct the state investment officer to use some of the $5 billion Severance Tax Permanent Fund for loans to help small businesses and municipalities damaged by the pandemic. (It sounds like this is a diversion of money that would already be “invested” by the SIC as opposed to tapping additional revenue. If so, this is a sound idea)
As discussed above, this is what you got if you looked for “all bills” introduced in the 2020 special session.
The Rio Grande Foundation is not a fan of teachers unions or any public employee unions. We share President Franklin Roosevelt’s concern that unionizing public employees is very different from unionizing private sector employees.
But, a natural experiment that resulted in a study out of Yale University adds to the strength of our argument. As the screenshot below clearly states, “mandatory teacher bargaining laws increase the performance of high-achieving students while simultaneously lowering the performance of poorly achieving students.”
The logic is simple. In the absence of collective bargaining (unions) districts can use incentives to encourage the best teachers to go into tougher, low-income and minority schools. With unions negotiating on teachers’ behalf the best teachers choose to go to the best (easiest) schools.
It would seem that the issue of collective bargaining should at least be on the table as New Mexico works to improve outcomes for disadvantaged students, but you can count on the unions to work very hard in opposition to anything that weakens their power.
On this week’s discussion episode, Paul and Wally discuss the Special Session of the New Mexico Legislature which begins June 18. As of the recording of this podcast, it will NOT be open to the public. That decision has been appealed to New Mexico’s Supreme Court.
When the Legislature DOES meet Wally and Paul believe that the Legislature will largely“kick the can” down the road to beyond the November election.
The Rio Grande Foundation has long argued that New Mexico needs to develop its private sector economy beyond the oil and gas industry (we support oil and gas, but believe New Mexico relies too much on this volatile source of jobs and revenues).
Due to the shutdown of New Mexico’s economy during the COVID19 outbreak New Mexico businesses have had to furlough or let go large numbers of their workers. This is going to potentially have serious repercussions for the State’s unemployment insurance fund and the payments those businesses must make to that fund.
This article by Carol Wight of the New Mexico Restaurant Association addressed the issue from the 2008-2009 economic crisis. Unfortunately, if the political leadership of New Mexico is not prudent, businesses could be deeply impacted, even if they are able to recover from the shutdown.
On this week’s interview podcast, Paul sits down with Roswell Mayor Dennis Kintigh. Paul and Dennis discuss the economy of Southeast including the increased economic impact of the old Walker AFB. Dennis is a former State legislator so the two discuss Dennis’ work in the Legislature on limiting film subsidies and they also talk about the big shifts in the Legislature in the recent primary election.
Mostly, however, Mayor Kintigh shares his concerns about the treatment of his part of the State which has not been impacted in the same way as some other parts of the State by COVID-19.
Use $725 million of federal coronavirus relief funds
Tap the state reserves.
Refinance road projects and reduce pay raises for state employees from 4 to 2 percent.
The Gov. added that “furloughs and layoffs are not on the table.”
In other words, no serious action will be taken to address the budget. While many businesses STILL remain shut down by order of the Gov. and the economy struggles to regain momentum New Mexico government employees will not only NOT suffer any pain from being “all in this together,” they will see pay raises.
$34 million and counting is what New Mexico has spent so far on fighting COVID19. Federal CARES Act money should be available and more than enough so as to not impact New Mexico’s budget (the shutdown is another matter).
But, as Gessing cautions in his brief comment for the story here and on the picture, politicians have a tendency to spend money for purposes that aren’t necessarily as intended.
By now you may have heard that the special session set to kick off in Santa Fe on June 18 will be closed to the public. Set aside the constantly changing “science” behind the lockdowns and the ongoing restrictions on our personal liberties. The simple truth is that if New Mexicans can shop in big-box stores and malls with some restrictions, they should be able to weigh in on the future of their state and the (as of yet unknown) policy changes being proposed by Gov. Lujan Grisham.
Yes, the New Mexico Legislature is SUPPOSED to meet in public. But the majority can make its own rules, so it is Democrats only who get to determine whether the public is allowed in although I think the courts will have the final say.
Ultimately, more innovative solutions could be put into place. After all, committee meetings already have limited space due to fire restrictions. The same could be done just on another level with entrance to the building itself and Committee rooms themselves.