Errors of Enchantment

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NM Land Commissioner joins MLG in opposing “democracy”

03.08.2024

New Mexico politicians have a tendency to tout “democracy” but only if they get their way. One might think that this would be simple since the entire State is “blue” and controlled by Democrats, but Gov. Lujan Grisham has repeatedly rejected the Legislature’s actions including her latest attempt to eradicate 4-day school weeks.

Now, New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard has decided that the Democrat-controlled Legislature’s refusal to increase royalty (tax) rates gives her the “green light” to refuse to lease certain prime oil and gas lands under her control. Someone who knew nothing about New Mexico politics might expect a standoff like this to occur in a state with a partisan split between the Land Office and the Legislature, but they are all “progressive” Democrats.

Will Garcia Richard relent or is she going to hold these leases “hostage” until she gets her way in the Legislature? Will legal action bring the Commissioner into line? While Garcia Richard claims to be acting for the benefit of NM school children to get the “best deal,” the reality is that oil and gas is taxed differently in different states. New Mexico, for example, imposes its gross receipts tax (levied at 7 or 8%) on numerous aspects of the oil and gas industry. This is only one of many differences that make direct royalty rate comparisons a challenge.

All 112 members of the Legislature are up for election this fall. A more moderate/conservative Legislature likely won’t give the Land Commissioner what she wants.

Electronic candidate nominating petition fail (resolved)

03.08.2024

With New Mexico’s legislative candidate filing deadline looming on Tuesday RGF president Paul Gessing on Friday, March 8, attempted to login to the Secretary of State’s Candidate Nominating Petition. Sadly, as the brief video below highlights, Paul was unable to sign. You can see the screenshot below and a brief video of the failed attempt below. Gessing has contacted the SoS office and they achieved the same (failed) result. They have been very helpful and are working on the problem, but this is a serious issue as the electronic petition signing system is implemented.

Update: Gessing received a return call from the SoS office. They indicated that there was a “duplicate record” although it was clearly inactive and they are contacting Bernalillo County today to remove the duplicate record. We will update readers on the situation.

Update 2: The SoS office called back again this afternoon and has resolved the situation. Kudos to them for their quick action. Hopefully similar problems are rare and do not plague too many people or campaigns.

 

 

 

RGF provides public comment against Biden (and Ben Ray Lujan’s) proposed vehicle “kill switch”

03.08.2024

The Biden Administration (with the support of people like NM Sen. Ben Ray Lujan) has been pushing for a “kill switch” controlled by government to be included on your automobile. Rep. Thomas Massie (R-KY) offered an amendment in Congress to eliminate the “kill switch” but it wasn’t adopted.

So, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) recently collected public comments on the issue. The Rio Grande Foundation offered the following comments in opposition:

I have serious concerns about the proposed regulation:

For starters, whatever technology is ultimately settled on, cars will become even more expensive: New car prices have already risen by
60 percent over the last decade, and this regulation will only increase costs.

False positives will endanger consumers: Even with 99.9% accuracy, you could have a million false positives per day. This means your car won’t start or may automatically slow down or even pull over while you’re driving. This is not safe, especially in high crime or isolated areas of my state New Mexico (and other rural areas)
.
Personal privacy is at risk: Car thefts are on the rise, and now cyber thieves will potentially have hours of recording and monitoring of your car rides.

Your rights are compromised: This intrusive “Big Brother” technology threatens your personal freedom and presumption of innocence.

Even NHTSA doubts that such technology will work as intended, writing:
“Little data is available…on which combination of sensors and indicators of driver state, if any, would achieve greater accuracy and reliability of impairment detection.”

For all of these and other reasons, we oppose this proposal.

You can find this comment at Regulation.gov by searching for: lte-wiud-nr78

Despite widespread opposition, MLG eliminates 4-day school week

03.07.2024

Few education policy issues can unite the liberal Searchlight NM, teachers unions, Republican legislators, and the Rio Grande Foundation, but apparently the fight to allow rural school districts to keep 4-day school weeks is it. In fact, the Searchlight article does an excellent job highlighting specific examples/stories, but Lujan Grisham took it upon herself to impose the 4-day week anyway.

Here is a fairly exhaustive list of why she is wrong:

What's wrong with 4-day school weeks? - Errors of Enchantment

MLG signs lame tax bill, vetoes provision preserving 4-day school week

03.06.2024

Unlike last year when the Gov. vetoed large swaths of the “tax omnibus” bill (HB 252), Gov. Lujan Grisham signed this year’s bill. Using FY 2026 numbers as the baseline (they change with time), the bill reduces personal income taxes by $159 million annually, increases capital gains taxes by $61 million, and raises corporate income taxes by $16 million annually.

So, overall, the bill is about an $88 million tax cut with numerous other subsidies and credits (some being worthwhile while others being abject wastes of money, like the EV tax credit). Meanwhile, the Gov. signed a budget that increases government spending by $653 million. With a $3.5 billion this is a lame effort (only 2.5% of the surplus is being returned in the form of tax cuts). It will certainly not “move the needle” for New Mexico in terms of economic standing. In fact, because the tax hikes will hit businesses directly one could argue that the tax bill actually makes New Mexico LESS attractive to business.

The Gov. also seems hellbent on forcing rural school districts into line with 5-day school weeks. She vetoed a provision inserted into the budget on a bipartisan basis that would have prohibited the Gov. from using the budget to force 5 day school weeks.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Thursday morning, signed into law House Bill 7, the Reproductive and Gender-Affirming Health Care Act

RGF in National Review: “Rich State, Poor People”

03.06.2024
One of the poorest states in the nation has had massive budget surpluses in recent years.

New Mexico’s 2024 legislative session lasted only 30 days. Thanks to booming oil and gas production in New Mexico’s section of the Permian Basin, the state legislature began the session with a massive $3.5 billion budget surplus. In 2023, the surplus was also around $3.5 billion. Those surpluses are in excess of 35 percent of the state’s general-fund budget, which crossed the $10 billion mark for the first time in 2024.  

The oil and gas boom has helped New Mexico has become the nation’s second-biggest oil-producing state (despite having a population just over 2 million). Taxes paid on the state’s oil production will generate “more money than we know what to do with,” according to Democrat state senator and Legislative Finance Committee vice chair George Muñoz. 

Sadly, despite having had similar surpluses in recent years, the state’s Democrat Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham and Democrat-held legislature again showed their commitment to a government-first philosophy. Yet again, “more money than we know what to do with” resulted in virtually no tax relief for New Mexico taxpayers and businesses. 

It’s not like the government-first model is working well for the state. New Mexico has the third-highest poverty rate in the nation. Its education system is arguably the worst in the nation; in 2022, New Mexico ranked No. 51 on each of four categories of the National Assessment of Educational Progress. Crime is a huge problem, especially in its largest city, Albuquerque. And New Mexico’s economy is almost entirely driven by the combined forces of oil and gas, two national nuclear labs, and several military bases. 

After a few years of surplus-driven spending, even the analysts hired by the Democrat-controlled legislature have admitted that the government is not particularly good at solving problems. 

In New Mexico, the Legislative Finance Committee essentially acts as the legislature’s own think tank. The group found that more education spending wasn’t leading to improved outcomes for New Mexico students. In fact, student enrollment went down.

Even more astonishing, the same state-backed analysts acknowledged that welfare programs (usually involving a combination of federal and state resources) have failed to improve poverty rates in New Mexico. They went on to note that the state had spent $10 billion on anti-poverty programs in FY 2023, but poverty rates have remained stubbornly high at around 18 percent (as compared with the national rate of 11.5 percent). They even went a step further to emphasize the importance of work and raising New Mexico’s pitiful workforce participation in addressing poverty. If this sounds like it came out of the Heritage Foundation or another conservative think tank, you’re probably not alone. 

So, to summarize, one of the poorest states (at least in terms of its inhabitants’ incomes) in the nation has had massive budget surpluses in recent years, thanks largely to oil and gas revenues. The state and its economy are widely recognized to be too reliant on that industry and in need of diversification. On top of that, spending more on education, welfare programs, and areas of corporate welfare have not improved anything. So, what’s a progressive-dominated legislature to do? 

It’s no surprise that it spent more money, specifically 6.8 percent more. That’s an annual increase of about $650 million. The legislators slightly reduced taxes and approved a hodgepodge tax bill that adjusted income-tax brackets in ways that will reduce taxes by about $150 million. But, in the same bill, the legislature raised other taxes (capital gains and corporate income) by $75 million, and gave away a bunch of mostly special-interest tax credits to the tune of $100 million. 

Obviously, with a budget surplus of $3.5 billion, a $150 million tax cut is miniscule. And of course, there are the completely unnecessary tax hikes. But those are irrelevant. With a $3.5 billion surplus available, New Mexico’s legislature grew government and reduced taxes by a combined $825 million. That means they held onto about $2.7 billion this year alone. 

As the oil and gas boom continued this year, New Mexico has poured money into various funds, like the “operating reserve” fund and the tax-stabilization reserve fund. The state now has one of the largest “rainy day funds,” in the nation according to Pew. 

But even that’s not enough. New Mexico has a separate set of “permanent funds” that has been growing by leaps and bounds, thanks to the natural resources. These funds are not part of the regular general-fund budgeting process and instead create a hidden funding mechanism for New Mexico’s ever-growing government. 

As of FY 2023, the state is sitting on nearly $43 billion in sovereign-wealth money tied up for future government spending by the state’s constitution. That’s the 31st-largest of such funds on the planet, and the third largest among U.S. states. This money is supposedly locked away, but it was accessed in 2022, thanks to a constitutional amendment to fund universal, all-day, pre-school statewide. In other words, there is no shortage of cash in New Mexico government coffers. 

New Mexico resembles a homeless person living in a cardboard box who sits on a hoard of cash that he or she simply won’t use. Plenty of money is being spent, and the state has plenty of money for the future. But for ideological reasons, legislators refuse to reduce taxes today to bring needed economic diversity and prosperity to the state. 

My organization, Rio Grande Foundation, has recommended shifting the state’s job-killing, gross-receipts tax to resemble a basic sales tax. The state could also benefit from becoming one of the growing number of states that has no income tax. New Mexico is not in the conversation when it comes to competing for jobs and population growth with neighboring Texas. Shifting to a traditional sales tax and eliminating the personal-income tax would make New Mexico attractive. 

New Mexico could become an economic dynamo in the American Southwest right now. The problem is that the state’s policy-makers and its people who prefer that the government has plenty of cash available for the year 2100, rather than following the well-trodden path to using a massive opportunity generated by incredible growth in the state to create prosperity for its citizens right now.  

PAUL J. GESSING is the president of the Rio Grande Foundation, a think tank based in Albuquerque, N.M. 

Tipping Point NM episode 586: New Mexico a Leader?, Housing Subsidies and Regulations, Santa Fe Plastic Bag Ban, and more

03.06.2024

In this week’s conversation Paul and Wally discuss a fantastic editorial/cartoon in ABQ Journal Sunday.

The Journal was reacting to the Gov. speaking to the ABQ Chamber of Commerce. Paul addressed the event immediately and explained that the Legislature did little for NM business this session.

Wallethub report: New Mexico is a good state to be poor. 

Santa Fe County is pursuing a discredited plastic bag ban.

MLG: we need more housing (and signs bill subsidizing housing). Also MLG: we need to add costly new regulations on housing.

A few gun/crime bills that passed this session have been signed by MLG. Paul and Wally have thoughts.

Bernalillo County EV Charging Stations: existing and proposed

03.05.2024

We recently requested of Bernalillo County the following: The number of EV charging stations (current or planned), their locations, charging level, and cost per unit. Here’s what we received:

Existing units can be found at (unfortunately, no price information was provided on existing units):

1 single level two charger with 2 ports at Alvarado.
1 single level two charger with 2 ports at Rio Bravo Rail Station.
1 single level two charger with 2 ports at Montaño Rail Station.
1 single level two charger with 2 ports at Los Ranchos Rail Station.

Per the County’s response, the County has applied for several grants, presumably from the federal government. Here are the details (if received).

4 level three charges with 2 ports each at Route 66 estimated at $2,100,000.

Upgrade the existing level two charger currently at Alvarado to a faster (higher amp) level 3 charger. This addition and upgrade is estimated at $875,000.

1 level two charger with two ports at Los Padillas Community Center estimated at $64,793. Project totaling $457,751.

1 level two charger with two ports at Los Vecinos Community Center estimated at $97,190. Project totaling $222,692.

1 level two charger with two ports at Paradice Hills Community Center estimated at $80,992. Project totaling $394,964.

1 level two charger with dual ports at Westside Community Center estimated at $80,992. Project totaling $470,451.

We have been repeatedly told by advocates for EV’s and the deployment of their charging stations that we are applying higher costs to EV chargers than their real costs. But, when Highlands University has a Level 1 (the lowest level) charging station that cost $11,181.47. Western NM’s charging station cost $101,682.91, and CNM’s level 2 charging stations cost $45,000 per unit, it is clear that EV charging units cost more than their advocates would have us believe.

Electric Vehicle Charging — PPC Solar

Fantastic Trever cartoon and editorial from ABQ Journal

03.04.2024

Sunday’s Albuquerque Journal included some basic truths. the editorial cartoon below was fantastic as is so often the case with John Trever. And, the editorial which called out Gov. Lujan Grisham for her recent “happy talk” remarks to the Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce is also worthy.

Image

New Mexico’s economic numbers look decent right now. Unemployment is low, but that is being driven almost entirely by the massive oil and gas boom. Crime, education, and workforce participation (to name 3 under MLG’s control) are not great and nothing serious is being done about them. We at the Rio Grande Foundation have outlined a path forward on taxes, education, and workforce participation (simply plug those terms into the search box of this site), but MLG is (as Trever notes) taking most of her cues from California instead.

New Mexico: a good state to be poor!

03.02.2024

A few weeks ago I wrote in this space about the misguided approach of our legislators and many activists that influence them to taxation. Often they focus on “progressive” taxation rather than overall tax burdens or pro-business tax policy. This session was no different.

According to a new report from Wallethub, New Mexico is “succeeding.” In fact, it is the 6th-best state overall for the “poor” to pay taxes. Click on map below.

Interestingly, this is one area where blue and red states don’t really follow any particular pattern. Deep red Alaska is the very best state to be poor while Montana is 2nd. Blue Illinois is the worst state to be poor and blue Washington and Hawaii follow.

In a separate chart the best state for wealthy taxpayers follows a somewhat more consistent pattern with zero income states being the best places to be. Interestingly, despite New Mexico’s massive oil and gas wealth and surpluses in recent years, both the middle class (middle column) and upper class (right column) pay higher than average taxes as a percent of their incomes while the poor pay the 6th-lowest.

It’s time for New Mexico to reduce taxes for everyone including middle and upper class taxpayers!

Tipping Point NM episode 585: Everyday Freedom with Philip K. Howard

03.01.2024

On this week’s interview Paul talks to attorney and author Philip K. Howard. Howard is Chair of Common Good and a bestselling author, and has advised both parties on needed reforms. In his new book, Everyday Freedom (Rodin Books, 2024), he pinpoints the source of powerlessness that is fraying American culture and causing public failure and offers a bold vision of simpler governing frameworks to re-empower Americans in their daily choices. Paul and Howard discuss the US Constitution as a framework for our society and public sector labor unions as villains in driving division and failure in American society.

 

Santa Fe County to pursue discredited plastic bag ban

03.01.2024

Apparently members of Santa Fe County Commission want people in the county to use more plastic. At least that’s how we’d have to interpret their plan to consider banning plastic bags in the unincorporated areas of the County.

While these bans have always been known to have a dubious environmental impact, the best known study of the environmental impact of plastic bag bans was recently done in New Jersey (a state with such a ban on the books). According to the study of the ban which was adopted in 2022, “Plastic consumption in New Jersey spiked by nearly three times from the use of heavier, reusable bags, increasing greenhouse gas emissions from the use of bags by 500 percent.”

Furthermore, “The reusable bags were used only 2 or 3 times before being misplaced or disposed of—not the 16 times needed to positively impact the environment.”

Government policies always have their unintended consequences. Plastic bag bans are no different. Not only should Santa Fe’s County Commission reject such a ban, but if they care about the environment, the City of Santa Fe, Los Alamos, Silver City, and Las Cruces city governments should end their bans.

New Jersey's Ban On Plastic Bags Causes "Nearly 3x Increase In Plastic Consumption For Bags" | Not the Bee

MLG: We gotta build houses, Also MLG, we gotta regulate houses more and tax them!

02.29.2024

The Gov. has signed HB195. The basic idea is to subsidize “affordable” housing (below market price) near employment centers. 

 The New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority estimated in a 2023 report the state is short about 32,000 affordable rentals.

Of course, politicians, especially New Mexico’s ruling Democrats are happy to use taxpayer dollars to “solve” problems they created in the first place.

For example, earlier this year the Gov. rammed through regulations on apartments and residential buildings alike that “require electric vehicle infrastructure to be built into new commercial and residential construction projects.” The recently adopted 2021 building code also includes other changes which the industry has stated will unnecessarily increase construction costs.

Homeowners in Denver attempting to rebuild after a fire recently found firsthand how these regulations increase construction costs.

Then there is the gross receipts tax which (despite the best efforts of Susana Martinez and the Legislature in 2013) continues to be a complicated and costly mess for builders. 

There are many issues impacting the supply of housing in New Mexico, but pouring taxpayer dollars into this “solution” is not where policymakers should start.

ABQ announces 191-unit apartment complex approved for Downtown amid housing shortage - Source New Mexico

MLG/Legislature Did Little for NM Business

02.28.2024

On the front page of this morning’s Albuquerque Journal, Gov. Lujan Grisham touts her “accomplishments” for business in New Mexico. While it would be hard NOT to do something for business with the kinds of budget surpluses the State has had in New Mexico in recent years, it is hard to see how anything that happened this session will make business owners and others from across the nation sit up and take notice about New Mexico.

For starters, the BEST thing about the session was something that DIDN’T happen. The Gov. said nothing about a possible paid family leave mandate funded in part by a new tax on businesses (SB 3/HB6). Thankfully, the Legislature narrowly avoided passing this anti-business measure.

Of course crime and education which are always major issues for businesses were not seriously addressed in any way. Even the Gov. expressed frustration about the lack of action on crime (although her actions are focused more on taking away guns). On education the Gov. remains focused on forcing unwilling rural districts to adopt 5-day school weeks. 

They DID slightly reduce personal income taxes but raised capital gains and corporate taxes. The Gov. COULD veto these, but we’re not holding our breath. Ultimately, even with a $3.5 billion surplus GRT reform was not even discussed (this analysis is based on a bill that addressed GRT and corporate income taxes from last session). Until that happens OR other taxes are seriously reduced, New Mexico will not be considered “business friendly.”

Tipping Point NM Episode 584 Subsidizing Marijuana, $16 million for Soccer Stadium, Out of Touch on Crime and more

02.27.2024

Our tax dollars are now subsidizing the marijuana industry and it makes no sense (regardless of your views on marijuana).

State capital outlay bill has $16 million for UnitedStadium.

PNM adds EV subsidies to existing/new subsidies and mandates. Also, Mercedes Benz said they’ll continue producing gas powered cars after 2030.

An electric car charger has been pulled from the market over fears it could be hacked and used to attack the power grid.

A new report says 0.37% of vehicles on the road in NM are electric.

Is this article by 4 “progressive” NM legislators the most out of touch article on crime yet? 

NM economy continues to fall behind neighbors

02.27.2024

In any given year or other abbreviated time period it may seem that New Mexico is more or less keeping up with its neighbors. In reality, it is being left behind and it isn’t really close. I found an interesting website: CountryEconomy.com which can be used to put together some of these charts.

RGF complained after the session that once again the Legislature did not enact needed policy reforms that would boost New Mexico’s economy despite having a massive surplus.

For starters, the first two charts are New Mexico vs. Texas. The first chart is total GDP. While Texas has ALWAYS had a bigger economy than New Mexico, the Texas economy has grown far more quickly than New Mexico’s. Back in 1963 (the first year included) Texas’ economy was 9.6 times New Mexico’s. By 2022 the Texas economy was 19 times the size of New Mexico’s.

On a per-person basis New Mexico the gap between Texas and New Mexico used to be quite small, but in 2022 the gap is now nearly 35%.

Colorado is in many ways more similar to New Mexico in relative population size and geography, but back in 1963 Colorado’s GDP was about 2 times as big as New Mexico’s. Today it is 4 times as big.

On a per-person basis Colorado, which as recently as the early 1980s had per capita incomes similar to those in New Mexico now has incomes that are 42 percent greater than in New Mexico.

The site is full of useful information. What other states should we compare with New Mexico and why?

Most out of touch take on crime yet?

02.26.2024

While RGF’s policy expertise is not in the area of crime, everyone in New Mexico, especially Albuquerque, is affected by the City/State’s serious crime problems. Most agree that nothing much was done (again) to address the issue in the 2024 session.

But, a small group of “progressives” hastens to disagree with that assessment. They write in the ABQ Journal to assert that some pretty far-flung policies from this session will alleviate crime. We are unconvinced. They write:

Decades of research have shown us that we can’t arrest our way out of homelessness, addiction, mental illness or poverty. Mass incarceration actually has an adverse effect on public safety by breaking up families, saddling people with criminal records, and diverting resources away from addressing the root causes of crime.

The people of El Salvador would like a word. The nation with a crime problem far worse than New Mexico’s has cut its murder rate by 70% with a “tough on crime approach.” That being said, reducing crime isn’t as simple as tossing a bunch of people in jail, but we haven’t been very “smart” on crime in New Mexico.

And the “accomplishments” of the 2024 Legislature they cite including so-called “affordable housing,” spending on rural hospitals, and a pilot project to provide to provide stipends for attending workforce training programs are not remotely “anti-crime.” Claiming they will address crime doesn’t make it so.

These views are held by some of New Mexico’s most “progressive” Democratic legislators, but if MLG wanted to do something about crime as opposed to just taking guns from law-abiding citizens, it would seem she could work with moderate Democrats and Republicans to make that happen. So far we see no signs of that happening.

Journal Poll: Homelessness, crime are 'very serious' issues

PNM piles on more EV subsidies

02.26.2024

Fresh off the Legislature adding $50 million in annual EV subsidies to the already long list of state and federal EV subsidies and mandates, PNM (the State’s largest utility) has added its own incentives to the long list of EV subsidies. 

According to the Albuquerque Journal, the utility has received approval from New Mexico Public Regulation Commission voted for PNM’s “Transportation Electrification Program for 2024 to 2026.”

As with ANY government subsidy, the costs will be borne by rate payers. According to the article, PNM’s plan will “cost New Mexicans a few dollars more per month on their electric bills.”

Furthermore, The total cost of the Transportation Electrification Program added up to $37 million in PNM’s original application. The final total program cost will likely adjust slightly with commissioners’ modifications.

Where will the subsidy push end? And will all of these subsidies and mandates help to achieve the Gov.’s 43% EV mandate by 2026 or 82% by 2032? 

In other news Mercedes Benz just backed away from plans to phase out gas-powered cars by 2030 and instead stated they will, “make petrol cars well into the 2030’s.”

Get upto Rs 1 lakh incentive on your EV: All you need to know about UP's

 

Tipping Point NM episode 583: A Look Back and Ahead for the New Mexico Legislature with Rep. John Block

02.23.2024

On this week’s interview Paul sits down with Rep. John Block. Block has been a consistent voice for conservative principles in the Legislature since he took office in 2023. He also manages the Pinon Post, a political news site dealing with New Mexico politics.

Block wound up coming in 2nd overall in the Foundation’s Freedom Index this year. We discuss what happened and didn’t happen in the 2024 session and how New Mexicans can work together to improve their state with the entire Legislature up for election later this year.

More taxpayer $$ seem to be heading to United Stadium

02.22.2024

When the City of Albuquerque approved a plan for a new United soccer stadium at Balloon Fiesta Park, we believed that taxpayers would be “on the hook” for cost overruns and other expenses. After all, in 2021 taxpayers voted down a $50 million bond for a stadium expected to cost $65-$70 million near downtown.

Now, under the new agreement and after a doubling of construction costs (according to the LFC) the agreement moving forward is for the team to put up $30 million and the City to put up $13.5 million in state capital outlay dollars for a total of $43.5 million towards a stadium at Balloon Fiesta Park.

We knew something was fishy. Well, as it turns out we were right. Thanks to the massive revenue surplus generated by the oil and gas industry (and some shady dealings in the capital outlay bill) the State of New Mexico is putting up what appears to be AN ADDITIONAL $16 million for the United Stadium (see page 1).

Sadly, the exact nature of the $16 million is impossible to discern, but what else would the State spend $16 million on? NM’s capital outlay system is widely seen as a disaster and this is one of the ways the process is abused by politicians (likely the Gov. in this case).

So, in case you are wondering, the  current tally is $30 million from the team and approximately the same amount from State taxpayers. That doesn’t include opportunity costs associated with other uses of the prime real estate, the Industrial Revenue Bonds, and more.

There MAY still be more to come, but a $60 million stadium is at least plausible.

Taxpayers will have to pay for new soccer stadium

Thanks to an alert friend of RGF for alerting us to this expenditure.

 

Now we’re directly subsidizing New Mexico marijuana industry w/ our tax dollars

02.22.2024

At the Rio Grande Foundation we have never opposed marijuana legalization. Our view is in line with the libertarian perspective that people should not be tossed in jail for buying, selling, or using pot.

On the flip side, marijuana is not an industry that is going to support overall economic growth and it shouldn’t/won’t be a big source of government revenues (relative to other industries). Policymakers should not be promoting legalized pot as “economic development.” 

And with all the taxes paid to the State by the marijuana industry and the fact that marijuana isn’t being legally sold across state lines (due to federal restrictions), it is absurd for tax dollars (LEDA) to be used to subsidize the marijuana industry. But, according to news reports LEDA $$ just went to a Clovis-based marijuana “manufacturing and processing” facility. 

Support or oppose legalization, our tax dollars shouldn’t be used to subsidize it. 

Forward-thinking' New Mexico goes from legal marijuana to  taxpayer-subsidized weed | New Mexico | thecentersquare.com

Tipping Point NM Episode 582: Seinfeld, Freedom Index, Biden’s EV Overreach, Cannabis LEDA Funding, president ranking

02.22.2024

Paul and Wally both attended the Seinfeld show. They have numerous thoughts:

1) The City did a poor job with logistics. 

2) The media didn’t condemn the protests for simply targeting a Jewish comedian (same with Meow Wolf):

3) While Paul and Wally believe that protestors have the right to share their beliefs, they should be doing so with their elected officials.

Freedom Index votes are finalized for the 2024 New Mexico legislative session.

As Paul noted in a recent blog post moderate Democrats came to the rescue of sanity in the 2024 session.

Just in time for the election President Biden appears to be backing away from his EV overreach. MLG shows no signs of backing off. Meanwhile the ABQ Journal finally covered the adoption of costly new mandates requiring EV chargers.

The State is giving a cannabis business funds through the State’s LEDA corporate welfare program.

Yesterday was President’s Day. Here’s our take on some of the best and worst.

RGF opinion piece: Legislature chose to grow government instead of the economy

02.20.2024

As Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, told the floor as debate over this year’s budget wrapped up: “You’re not a poor state. Quit telling other people you’re a poor state.”

He’s right. The state of New Mexico is not poor. But what about the people of New Mexico?

Among the citizens poverty remains high. According to World Population Review, New Mexico has the third-highest poverty rate in the U.S. Crime remains troubling and the education system is in dire straits.

The state of New Mexico — meaning the government itself — has had massive surpluses in recent years. Sadly, the government has either held onto or spent a majority of those dollars. The Legislature and its policies keep New Mexicans poor while the state retains massive wealth. A 2023 report stated that New Mexico’s permanent funds amount to $43 billion.

That number is only going to grow. Heading into the 2024 session New Mexico was blessed with a $3.5 billion surplus. A similar surplus existed last year. This session the Legislature adopted a 6.8% budget increase spending about $659 million. Furthermore, the Legislature adopted a “tax omnibus” that contained various tax cuts, credits and hikes, which will reduce state revenues by approximately $220 million.

I might wish to see less spending and a more aggressive approach to tax cuts than that pursued in the budget, House Bill 2, and tax bill, House Bill 252, but the two combined amount to “only” $880 million or about 25% of the available surplus. Where is the other $2.6 billion?

The fact is that money, and other surplus revenues like them in recent years, has been stashed away in various government funds. Call them whatever you want, but they amount to future government spending.

Instead of keeping our money, New Mexico’s leadership should be using these dollars to diversify and grow the economy in the here and now. There is bipartisan agreement that we are too dependent on oil and gas and federal spending. This session the Legislature had opportunities to use that surplus to spur economic growth.

In the House, an amendment was offered to the tax omnibus bill, HB 252, by Rep. Townsend, R-Artesia, that would have moved New Mexico’s personal income tax to a flat 1% rate. That’s the kind of bold economic policy reform that puts a state like New Mexico “on the map” for businesses and people considering relocating. It would mean real economic diversification and quickly.

Better still, the amendment would have only reduced revenues by $1.75 billion, leaving $1.75 billion available to spend or save. Sadly, it died along partisan lines on the House floor.

Another amendment, this one offered to the “tax omnibus” by Sen. Cliff Pirtle, R-Roswell, would have simply indexed New Mexico’s tax on Social Security to the rate of inflation at a negligible “cost” to the state. Two years ago New Mexico reduced this tax, but it remains one of just 10 states to tax Social Security at all.

Over time, because it is not indexed to inflation, New Mexico’s tax code would catch greater numbers of people in the tax. That is especially true as inflation has increased rapidly in recent years. Sadly, the amendment failed 20-15 with all Republicans supporting it and several Democrats avoiding voting, but enough of them opposed the idea to kill it.

Sen. Muñoz is right. New Mexico is not a “poor” state. But our state government is obese and gluttonous while it remains dependent on oil and gas and federal spending. New Mexico is poorly led and it continues to miss opportunities to diversify and grow its economy right now to instead grow government now and into the future.

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

List of U.S. states and territories by poverty rate - Wikipedia

Happy President’s Day! Who is best/worst?

02.19.2024

Here are some candidates for the best presidents in American history from a limited government perspective with influence of Ivan Eland’s excellent book Recarving Rushmore.

1. John Tyler:

2. Coolidge

3. Harding

4. Cleveland

5. Reagan

Here are some of our candidates for the very worst presidents who increased the size and scope of the US government.  Your thoughts in the comments please!

1. Wilson

2. FDR

3. Biden

4. George W. Bush

5. LBJ