Tipping Point NM episode 288: Larry Behrens – Power the Future New Mexico and You’re Fracking Welcome

On this week’s interview, Paul interviews Larry Behrens of Power the Future New Mexico.  They have set up a website: https://www.yourefrackingwelcome.com to honor and thank workers in the oil and gas industry.

Furthermore, Larry and Paul worked together on reopening New Mexico and the Gov.’s COVID restrictions. They start the program by discussing how their recommendations made back in April of 2020 would have been much better for New Mexicans and small businesses in the State.

Why does renewable energy industry need government handout?

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Balderas files suit to stop economic development in SE New Mexico

As New Mexicans who are paying even the slightest attention to politics are aware, the Biden Administration has placed a moratorium on oil/gas permitting on federal lands. This will have enormous impacts on New Mexico, but as we recently noted, AG Balderas HAS NOT seen fit to sign New Mexico on to a lawsuit filed by 14 states against Biden’s moratorium.

But, Balderas DID see fit to file suit against the proposed Holtec nuclear storage facility outside of Carlsbad. Holtec’s facility would result in a $3 billion capital expenditure by the company to the region, and create up to 400 jobs between the site itself and manufacturing plant to build steel casks to hold the waste in storage.

Not surprisingly, despite his unwillingness to lift a finger to support oil and gas (not to mention New Mexico’s economy) against the Biden Administration’s existential threat, Balderas has claimed that the facility represents a “threat” to the region’s oil and gas industry.

It is far more likely that Balderas’ lawsuit is the result of NIMBY ideology than any concern about oil and gas. Alas, if he is successful, the result will be fewer jobs and a less diversified economy in Southeast New Mexico.

Nuclear waste storage: Holtec might build Carlsbad manufacturing plant

 

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Tipping Point NM episode 287: COVID-19 Improvements, Marijuana Special Session, Legislation That Wasn’t, and More

On this week’s podcast, Paul and Wally discuss the fact that more NM counties continue to improve on COVID.

Cliffs Amusement Park is set to reopen on May 8. Hinkle Family Fun Center is still not open but is hiring. How easy will it be for these businesses to find employees with all the “free” money floating around?

Arizona and Utah remove nearly all COVID restrictions.

Two weeks after opening Texas continued to see a decline in COVID cases.

In Texas when the State dropped its mask mandate on March 10 there were 5,350 new cases and a rolling 7 day average of 4,909. By March 28 there were 3,293 new cases and a rolling 7 day of 4,005.

In New Mexico which remains relatively locked down and with a mask mandate in place, on March 10 there were 249 new cases and a rolling 7 day of 227.

By March 28 in NM there were 161 new cases with 7 day rolling average of 188.

New Mexico’s Special Session begins Tuesday. Thankfully only two issues on agenda, but timing is awkward and politically-motivated.

Who did well or poorly on the Freedom Index?

State Sen. Mark Moores gets GOP nod for GOP in CD1

Paul and Wally discuss several issues left undiscussed during the 2021 session:

Right to Work;
Reduction of or elimination of New Mexico’s income tax;
Reforming the GRT;
Occupational licensing reform;
Eliminate film subsidies;
Consider new approaches to Rail Runner and Spaceport;
Ambitious school choice/efforts to empower parents to choose education that makes sense for their child;
Higher education reform;
Repeal ETA or institute rate caps to make sure utilities don’t increase rates rapidly.

14 states are suing Biden on oil/gas moratorium, but not New Mexico even though we are the State most impacted.

Finally, we discuss teacher bashing.

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The “Dogs that didn’t bark” in New Mexico’s 2021 session (ideas not contemplated)

The very essence of the work of the Rio Grande Foundation is to attempt to push the so-called “Overton Window” of political possibility in a more pro-freedom direction. Alas, that Window has always been tough to nudge in the pro-freedom direction here in New Mexico (which is why we have especially low levels of economic freedom).

But, many forces act upon that “window” and if you’d told us that large numbers of Americans would not only gladly accept, but demand their governments tell them to not travel, go to work, their kids to go to school, and any of them to leave their houses prior to 2020, we wouldn’t have believed it. So, the Window CAN change quickly in the right conditionsThe Long Con And The Overton Window

Any time the Legislature meets it is worth reporting on the issues that were really never seriously discussed. Unfortunately, in New Mexico’s left-wing Legislature, numerous widely-implemented economic reforms remain outside the “window.”

Right to Work; More than half of all states give private sector workers the right to NOT pay union dues or fees if they don’t want to. Thanks to the Janus vs. AFSCME SCOTUS decision all government employees have this right. The Biden Administration’s “PRO Act” is an attempt to overturn Right to Work laws nationwide.

Reduce or eliminate income tax; Nine US states lack a personal income tax. Americans are flocking to those states.

Reform GRT; This is a basic tax reform that is essential for making New Mexico more economically-attractive, especially for small businesses, but serious reforms were not considered in 2021;

Occupational licensing reform; Former Gov. Susana Martinez issued a positive executive order easing restrictions, but nothing has really changed;

Eliminate film subsidies; New Mexico spends hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars every year to bring Hollywood filmmakers to the State to make movies and TV shows. No credible study finds this to be a net positive when it comes to the overall economy.

Consider new approaches to Rail Runner and Spaceport. There are not GOOD solutions given how much has been spent, but the Rail Runner in particular is incredibly expensive on an ongoing basis;

Ambitious school choice/efforts to empower parents to choose education that makes sense for their child (Kentucky and West Virginia have just done this);

Higher education reform;

Repeal the costly Energy Transition Act or institute rate caps to make sure utilities don’t increase rates rapidly;

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New Mexico session another missed opportunity

The following appeared in the Las Cruces Sun News on Sunday, March 28, 2021. UPDATE: Originally the article stated there was a production moratorium on federal lands. There is “only” a moratorium on new permits.

 

 

New Mexico is in one of the most unusual economic times in its history. Profound forces have impacted our State over the last year in unforeseen ways.

    • The Gov. and COVID shut down much of our State for much of the past year. COVID is declining, but New Mexico remains among the most locked-down states in the nation;
    • Oil and gas prices plummeted last April due to the pandemic and an international price war, but have come roaring back and produced $300 million in “new” money and a budget surplus;
    • Democrats in Washington recently passed a $1.9 trillion dollar “stimulus” that will dump an astounding $9 billion on New Mexico State and local governments. Meanwhile the Administration’s moratorium on oil and gas permits on federal lands will cost our State more than $700 million over the next few years according to Gov. Lujan Grisham;
    • While New Mexico governments are awash in money, businesses are struggling to recover. The State’s unemployment rate is 8.7 percent, 4th-worst in the nation.

To say we are living through unpredictable times would be an understatement. Oil and gas have always been volatile but are now more unpredictable than ever. This reflects broader economic uncertainty, but with the Biden Administration targeting the Industry, the Legislature must diversify our economy (this does not mean simply new sources of government revenue).

The unprecedented stream of federal spending flowing into our state is currently augmented by a flow of people. Housing markets are tight in most of our cities as Americans from big, expensive, states like California embrace remote work or simply move to states like New Mexico where they can spread out and buy a house for a lot less money.

Current trends are favorable, but long-term economic prosperity requires enacting policies that make the State more attractive as a business destination. The 2021 Legislature had a few successes but ultimately failed to enact policies that will bring long-term prosperity to New Mexico.

Despite a big budget surplus, the Legislature raised taxes on health insurance (SB 317). They imposed a new sick leave mandate on businesses, including small ones (HB 20). And, passage of HB 4, the misnamed “Civil Rights Act” will impose massive new legal costs on New Mexico governments without actually improving policing or protecting civil rights.

There were bright spots. HB 255 reformed New Mexico’s liquor licensing to make it easier for bars and restaurants long-term. HB 177 passed which allows New Mexicans to start micro-businesses by making non-perishable food items in their homes for sale.

But the gross receipts tax and its taxation of busines inputs and services remains a stumbling block for businesses. New Mexico also remains among a relatively small group of states that tax Social Security. No significant tax cuts or reforms were adopted. Also, no widespread reform of burdensome regulations (like the State’s “prevailing wage” law that artificially increases costs on public works) projects was enacted.

Some will argue that (after a decade of trying) tapping the Permanent fund to boost various education programs will help improve our workforce, but the track record of governments (including New Mexico’s) spending more money to boost education outcomes is spotty at best. Empowering parents and families with the resources needed to choose the educational option that is right for them (especially after a year of Zoom education), is more likely to succeed and at a fraction of the cost, but legislation to that effect was quickly defeated this session.

Microchip manufacturer Intel just announced that it is investing $20 billion in neighboring Arizona to build two new facilities. Such “economic diversification” is exactly what we need and what the Gov. and Legislature claim to want. Until the Legislature gets serious about reforming our economy we’ll continue riding the wave of luck, boom and bust in the oil patch, and Washington debt.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility

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Two issues (legalized cannabis & LEDA) on the agenda for Special Session

The New Mexico Legislature will convene once again for what SHOULD be a brief special session on Tuesday, March 30, 2021. The Gov.’s announcement is here. 

We’re not super-excited (and are sure the Legislature isn’t either) about doing this so quickly after a long and intense 60-day session, but we are happy that it is limited to two issues.

We’re not fans of the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) corporate welfare program, or its expansion, as a general rule, either.

It will be interesting to see if the Legislature can pass straightforward marijuana legalization bill in what will amount to a few days when they couldn’t do so even though it was a top priority of the Gov. and the Legislature during the 60 day session. Will it happen? We shall see.

Another Try for Cannabis? | News | Santa Fe Reporter

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Tipping Point New Mexico episode 286: Larry Ahrens – Greetings from Arizona

This episode was recorded BEFORE Intel announced a $20 billion investment in Arizona OR lifting COVID 19 restrictions. Those developments reflect the wide gulf in public policy between Arizona and New Mexico.

On this week’s episode, Paul sits down with former New Mexico media personality Larry Ahrens. For decades Larry was a fixture on radio and television throughout our State. Paul and Larry specifically discuss the early days of having Rush Limbaugh on KKOB radio.

Recently, Larry moved to Arizona for a variety of reasons that we discuss during the podcast. We discuss the differences between Arizona and New Mexico and why New Mexico is held back by its political leaders from achieving greater economic and social welfare success.

Larry B. Ahrens (@LarryNow) | Twitter

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A drive through Tim Keller’s Albuquerque

Since March of 2020 (the start of COVID 19) the Rio Grande Foundation has been located in downtown Albuquerque.

While Albuquerque has never had the greatest downtown, there is no doubt that the area has been hammered by COVID 19, the riots over the summer of 2020, and Mayor Tim Keller’s lax policies towards crime and homelessness. He just announced that he will be running for reelection this fall.

The Rio Grande Foundation recently took a drive around downtown and up Central Ave./Route 66 with a mounted camera to see what the City looks like. Watch the video for yourself below.

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If MLG REALLY wanted to push back against Biden on oil/gas moratorium she’d push AG Balderas to join lawsuit

To her credit (and unlike many so-called “progressives” in the Legislature) Gov. Lujan Grisham acknowledges the harm being done to New Mexico by the Biden Administration’s moratorium on oil and gas permitting.

But, the Gov. doesn’t REALLY support the Industry against Biden. She is instead attempting to balance economic reality and New Mexico’s dependence on the Industry against pressure from radical environmentalists who form much of her political base.

IF the Gov. and her compatriots in New Mexico government (specifically AG Hector Balderas) truly cared about defending New Mexico workers and the economy, they’d be eater to join the 14 states that have filed suit against the Biden Administration over its permitting moratorium. I’m not holding my breath. And yes, while the Gov. doesn’t “control” the AG, she can certainly call publicly for action on his part on behalf of New Mexico. I’m not holding my breath.

The following analysis by American Petroleum Institute illustrates just how dependent New Mexico is on federal oil and gas leases. 62,000 jobs and $1.1 billion in state revenues are at stake.

 

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Important bills that failed in New Mexico’s 2021 60-day Session (bad and good)

Bad Bills that failed:

SB 149 Ban fracking;

SB 66 Would have limited credit options for low-income New Mexicans;

SB 11 So-called “Clean Fuel Standard” would mandate use of “alternative fuels” in vehicles to reduce CO2 emissions;

SB 130 Would require 75% of state vehicles be electric;

HB 206 provide two-tiered utility pricing for “poor”;

SJR 3 “Green” Constitutional Amendment;

Several bills to restrict gun rights;

HB 236 Sets up a bank to be run by the State of New Mexico;

SB 168 5 cents/gallon gas tax hike;

HB 110 $15/hour minimum wage;

Good bills that failed

Several bills to reduce/eliminate Social Security taxes;

Various bills/amendments to restrict a Gov.’s power in “emergency”;

HB 12 Marijuana legalization;

HJR 7 and HJR 11 would have granted school choice to New Mexico families

Other bills that failed

SB 155 Amend Energy Transition Act

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