Sen. Stewart: People ARE leaving (or they’re not coming to) NM

A long-shot piece of legislation (actually constitutional amendment SJR 15) introduce in the 2021 legislative session would allow counties that wish to get out of the State of New Mexico to do so.

While its sponsor, Sen. Cliff Pirtle (R-Roswell) has no illusions of passage, it was written up in the Albuquerque Journal and generated some waves with Sen. pro tem Mimi Stewart (D-Albuquerque) saying, “If you like Texas better, just pack up your bags and move – it’s not that far.”

The reality is that it’s not that easy for average citizens to leave family, friends, and jobs to move to another State. What is more likely is that people never show up in the first place while a relatively small number do indeed leave when jobs and other opportunities become available.

Census Bureau data of course track this. Over the decade from 2010 to 2019 it is clear that people are taking Stewart’s advice and are moving to New Mexico’s more-economically-free neighbors, some of which compete with New Mexico’s ample geographical and weather attributes which are indeed hard to compete with.

Even Oklahoma which (unlike Texas) has an income tax and is not nearly as “enchanting” as New Mexico from the perspectives of weather or geography, grew THREE TIMES faster than New Mexico last decade.

It’s always worth noting that New Mexico sticks out like a sore thumb in terms of economic freedom on the Fraser Institute’s annual index. And, while partisan Democrats may note that for much of the decade in question New Mexico had a Republican Governor, the Legislature remained at least partially controlled by Democrats the entire time and thus Republicans couldn’t actually change many public policies.