I read Sen. Tim Keller’s article on rebuilding our economic base this morning in the Albuquerque Journal. Another article not requiring a login can be found here. It really didn’t do much for me in terms of outlining a plan for developing New Mexico’s economy.
Two specific proposals were outlined. One would provide tax incentives for companies to hire graduates of New Mexico institutes of higher ed. The other would make “new investments in a state entrepreneurial fund.” Aside from those proposals, he rightly criticizes “tax giveaway’s to single companies or long-established industries.”
By way of serious economic reforms, these are weak proposals indeed. Incentives to hire New Mexico college grads? First and foremost, why do we need more incentives for businesses to hire the MOST educated and qualified members of our work force? These graduates are on average wealthier and whiter than the New Mexico population at large. Of course, these incentives, while spread out over New Mexico’s economy, won’t really do much to spur significant economic growth anyway. Are companies really going to set up shop here (and create new jobs) in NM because of a $5,000 credit?
In terms of the state’s entrepreneurial fund, New Mexico already has the State Investment Council. Keller led the charge in reforming this, so he should be more aware than most of the serious problems with government-driven investment of taxpayer dollars. This is a bad idea.
Lastly, it is hard to argue with Keller’s view that government should not favor one business or industry. One wonders where the Democrats were when Bill Richardson set up the Rail Runner, the Spaceport (two government-created businesses) and the film subsidies. Rep. Dennis Kintigh has introduced legislation to phase down the tax credit over the next several years. It would seem to fall directly within the paradigm that Keller is touting. Unfortunately, his colleagues don’t seem to have gotten the memo.