Errors of Enchantment

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The alcohol tax hikes being discussed in Santa Fe are insane

01.31.2024

There are plenty of crazy policies discussed in Santa Fe every session. Sadly, many of them become the laws that keep New Mexico mired in last place.  One of the “craziest” bills is HB 179 which, if adopted, would MASSIVELY increase taxes on alcohol.

We have previously discussed the fact that New Mexico’s taxes on alcohol are NOT low. In fact, our tax on wine is already 5th-highest in the nation!  The following is a chart from the fiscal impact report on HB 179. It illustrates just how aggressively supporters of HB 179 are pushing to raise taxes.

14 states cut personal income tax rates in 2024, not New Mexico

01.31.2024

According to information provided by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, there are 14 states reducing personal income tax rates in 2024. You can see a map of those states below:

Sadly, even with massive budget surpluses New Mexico is NOT among the states working to improve its tax structure and thus its economic competitiveness. HB 252 is the best opportunity for personal  income tax reductions in New Mexico this session.

New Mexico’s elected officials are allowing the State to continue to fall behind more aggressive states.

14 states cut personal income tax rates in 2014, not New Mexico

01.31.2024

According to information provided by the Committee to Unleash Prosperity, there are 14 states reducing personal income tax rates in 2024. You can see a map of those states below:

Sadly, even with massive budget surpluses New Mexico is NOT among the states working to improve its tax structure and thus its economic competitiveness. HB 252 is the best opportunity for personal  income tax reductions in New Mexico this session.

New Mexico’s elected officials are allowing the State to continue to fall behind more aggressive states.

Tipping Point NM episode 576: Pushing Against Bad Bills, Federal LNG Permits Paused, Texas Border and more

01.30.2024

Paul was recently in Ruidoso to talk about government regulations and EV mandates at a Conservative Conference. Other speakers include James Lindsay and Sheriff Richard ClarkeBen Luna organized the event.

RGF has continued its work in Santa Fe, mostly pushing back against bad bills. Here are a few:

HB 41: Clean Fuel Standard (soon to be on house floor)

HB 133 opens up the New Mexico Oil and Gas Act which has governed the industry for decades and enacts language pushed by environmental groups that will have the effect of increasing regulations to the point where small operators can’t do business in New Mexico.

HB 48 would dramatically increase “royalties” (taxes) on the oil and gas industry which already generates huge amounts for New Mexico.

HB 140: EV subsidies.

Related to what is going on at the Texas Border:

U.S. President Joe Biden on Friday paused approvals for pending and future applications to export liquefied natural gas (LNG)from new projects

Biden vetoes bipartisan bill on “Buy American Provisions” relating to EV’s.

New tires every 7,000 miles? Electric cars save gas but tire wear shocks some Florida drivers

MLG seeks federal funding to assist in the border crisis. Why?

New Jersey plastic bag ban actually causes tripling of plastic usage.

A decent tax bill hits the Legislature: HB 252

01.30.2024

This bill is up in House Tax on Wednesday.

Handicapping the likelihood of tax bills in the New Mexico Legislature is really hard because they are compiled behind closed doors. Last year the Legislature was rather ambitious and wound up with a disastrous bill that even Gov. Lujan Grisham didn’t like. 

The Legislature seems to be far less ambitious this year and with only 30 days to pass something, that’s no surprise. House Bill 252 would be a bill worth including as it provides tax relief (targeted at lower income levels) for income tax payers in New Mexico.  It is sponsored by Rep. Lente, a Democrat and chair of the House Tax Committee.  You can read the analysis here. 

The rates would be: 1.5%, 3.2%, 4.3%, 4.7%, 4.9%, and 5.9%. The tax reduction would start out around $150 million and would rise somewhat over time. While this is by no means the tax reform/reduction we’d design, it is worthy of support and worth consideration by the Legislature.

Perhaps they would consider adding a provision to index these tax rates to inflation?

HB 6 Paid Leave to be heard in its most important committee on Wednesday afternoon

01.30.2024

Even if you have previously taken action on this issue, we need you to do it again! As the bill heads into a new committee, we need your participation to defeat the anti-business HB 6 Paid Family Leave BillTOMORROW at 1:30 PM, in the House Commerce & Economic Development Committee.

HB 6 is a disaster. If passed, this Bill will take $5 from every $1000 of hardworking employees and an additional $4 per $1000 from employers. This Bill is intended to create a super fund managed by Workforce Solutions to allow employees 12 weeks of paid leave.

We need you to get involved!

First – Send your legislator & the committee a message telling them that HB 6 is bad for employees & businesses.

Next – Make plans to attend the online meeting at 1:30 PM TOMORROW (1/31) with the button below. You can also attend in person in Santa Fe at the Roundhouse to make comments supporting the industry. (House Commerce & Economic Development Committee is in Room 317)

Together we can make a difference, but we must be present to win!

Message the Legislature

Attend Meeting @ 1:30 PM – TOMORROW (1/31)

Coral Springs City Commission Approves 5 Percent Business Tax Increase • Coral Springs Talk

Nobody hates success like Joe Biden (LNG export permitting pause)

01.30.2024

Last week President Biden seemingly inexplicably decided to put a stop to approvals of American liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports.  Is it to get back at Texas for the border dispute or is it another sop to the radical environmentalists (even though LNG exports are a win for the environment)? We may never know.

LNG is a classic win, win, win for the US and New Mexico.

It provides a market for our natural gas (NM is a top-10 producing state). This means jobs and revenues.

Natural gas is clean and often replaces coal. 

Our natural gas helps foreign allies that otherwise might have to rely on Russia. 

 

Details on MLG’s EV and EV charging subsidies in HB 140

01.26.2024

House Bill 140 is Gov. Lujan Grisham’s plan to further subsidize the deployment of electric vehicles. It does so by creating two new refundable (meaning they are often not tax reductions, but spending) personal and corporate income tax credits for a six-year period beginning in tax year 2024 through tax year 2029.

First, the bill creates the refundable electric vehicle income tax credit for each electric vehicle (EV) purchase and second, it creates an electric vehicle charging unit income tax credit to cover the cost of purchasing and
installing an electric vehicle charging unit. The credit amounts for each year is as follows.

What is surprising (to us) is how modest the vehicle subsidy is ($3,000 starting out for three years) and declining over time through 2029. On the other hand the subsidy for a charging station is up to $25,000 per unit. The cost to taxpayers per year is estimated to be approximately $40 million annually.

While we see this subsidy as completely unnecessary, with New Mexico having another massive $3.5 billion surplus thanks to oil and gas, there is plenty of money available for broader tax reductions. 

These subsidies primarily benefit the wealthy. According to a study published in the Energy Research Social Science Journal, the majority of EV owners are white, own a home, have multiple vehicles, and have a higher income compared to the general population. About 60% of EV owners have an annual income of more than $100,000, while only 20% have an annual income of less than $50,000.

Tipping Point NM episode 575: NM’s Insurance Commissioner Works to Destroy Health Sharing Plans with Katy Talento

01.26.2024

On this week’s interview Paul discusses the New Mexico Insurance Commissioner’s efforts to kill Christian Health Sharing plans in New Mexico. Katy Talento is a health care expert and Executive Director of the Alliance of Health Care Sharing Ministries.

We discuss how the plans work and why they became so popular in the wake of ObamaCare. We also discuss why the Insurance Commissioner would come after these plans. Paul and his family once were part of one prominent health sharing plan. He describes his experience.

MLG: federal support needed to deal with illegal immigration issues

01.24.2024

There is no doubt that our nation is facing a border crisis that the Biden Administration seems unable or unwilling to address. Like all Americans we have seen and heard of issues facing Texas and California at the border. We’ve also seen issues in big cities like Chicago, Boston, New York, and some others.

While we know there are illegal crossings of the New Mexico border, in Albuquerque and Santa Fe we aren’t seeing large numbers of issues dealing with immigrants or the need to house them. It is also not being reported in the media. Are we wrong? Why is Gov. Lujan Grisham among a rather small group of governors looking for money from Washington for this? See the tweet and letter signed by the Gov. below.

RGF’s president to speak at NM Grassroots Conservative Convention in Ruidoso this weekend! You’re invited.

01.23.2024

The Rio Grande Foundation is headed down to Ruidoso for the New Mexico Grassroots Convention. RGF’s own Paul Gessing will be speaking during a jam-packed day alongside speakers like Sheriff David Clark Tana Goertz, Matt Coday, and more to equip YOU with the information you need to use in your own community.

Will we see you at the New Mexico Grassroots Convention?

January 27, 2024
8AM to 7PM
Ruidoso Convention Center
111 Sierra Blanca Dr, Ruidoso, NM 88345
Tickets start at $35
Free for Law Enforcement and Emergency Responders

More information on schedule and speakers here. 

Register Now!

Two really bad bills in committee Wednesday morning: speak up now!

01.23.2024

Two of the very worst bills before the New Mexico Legislature this session begin moving through their committees starting this Wednesday morning.

HB 37 is up in the House Tax Committee (find a list of members and emails here).

If adopted it would dramatically limit New Mexicans’ ability to deduct capital gains from the sale of homes, businesses, and stock. Under the current system, New Mexico taxpayers with capital gains income are able to deduct 40 percent of their net gain from their New Mexico taxable income. This is a positive feature of the state’s tax code as it promotes the creation of capital, which has been in short supply in the Land of Enchantment. HB 37 would limit a taxpayer’s net capital gains deduction to $2,500.

Businesses get into business to make money. New Mexico desperately needs a broader array of businesses to become economically-successful. There is absolutely no reason to adopt a tax hike of this kind, especially when New Mexico has such a massive surplus. 

Relevant committee emails below:

derrick.lente@nmlegis.gov,
Jason Harper <JasonHarperNM@gmail.com>,
Cynthia.Borrego@nmlegis.gov,
ambrose.castellano@nmlegis.gov,
Mark.Duncan@nmlegis.gov,
doreen.gallegos@nmlegis.gov,
joshua.hernandez@nmlegis.gov,
Larry Scott <lrscott52@gmail.com>,
Jim Townsend <jamesgtownsend@gmail.com>,
kristina.ortez@nmlegis.gov,
linda.serrato@nmlegis.gov

HB 6 is the other awful bill. This “paid leave”  bill (up in House Health and Human Services tomorrow members listed at link) would foist tax hikes on employees and employers alike (weather they want the program or not) to fund a paid leave scheme administered by the Department of Workforce Solutions.

Although no FIR is yet available for the bill this year, the analysis of last year’s version SB 11, expressed serious concerns about the viability of the fund. Such shortfalls would result in inevitable tax hikes on both workers and employers.

Relevant committee emails below:

pamelya.herndon@nmlegis.gov,
Jenifer Jones <jenifermariejones@gmail.com>,
Kathleen.Cates@nmlegis.gov,
Eleanor.Chavez@nmlegis.gov,
Joanne Ferrary <rjferrary53@gmail.com>,
Tara.Jaramillo@nmlegis.gov,
Stefani Lord <stefanilord2@gmail.com>,
reena.szczepanski@nmlegis.gov,
harlanvincent@gmail.com

Fighting for American Jobs Against Democrats' Job-Killing Tax Hikes - House Committee on Ways and Means

Filming in downtown Albuquerque

01.22.2024

Today and for the last few weeks filming has been taking place on the streets of downtown Albuquerque (blocking off several including Gold). Of course, we know this is Gov. MLG’s very favorite industry.

Those trucks are most definitely NOT electric though and there is also a generator at bottom middle (MLG is forcing EV’s on the rest of us over the span of a few short years). The film also involved driving a bunch of 1970’s era gas-guzzling vehicles down the road. You can see a photo of some of the cars below. Of course, we the taxpayers are footing the bill for all of this.

NM’s misguided push for “progressive” taxes (defining “progressive” vs. “regressive” taxes)

01.22.2024

Over the weekend in the Albuquerque Journal ran this piece by a national, left-wing advocate for “progressive” taxation. He lauds New Mexico for making its tax code more “progressive” even though he appears to not know what the terms “progressive” and “regressive” mean when it comes to taxes.

According to none other than the IRS, a ” regressive tax—A tax that takes a larger percentage of income from low-income groups than from high-income groups.” A sales tax (or GRT) would be “regressive” because it taxes everyone at the same rate.

The “progressive” author misguidedly states that “regressive,” means the more you make, the less you pay. There are few taxes like that and certainly no tax structures where you pay less overall tax if you make more money.

So, how do New Mexico’s “progressive” tax changes impact job creation or overall economic health or the attractiveness of our state to economic relocation? Could New Mexico (blessed with massive oil and gas surpluses) make its tax structure less “regressive” by reforming and reducing its gross receipts tax? What is the appropriate level of taxation? These questions are left unanswered.

The author DOES trash Arizona for having made their tax structure more regressive in recent years (by cutting taxes, of course). New Mexico seems to be moving toward a California-style tax structure (according to the author’s own study, California has THE most progressive tax code) which has also made the state an attractive place to move out of.  

What is regressive tax? Definition and meaning - Market Business News

 

Tipping Point NM episode 573: Gun Laws in 2024 New Mexico Legislative Session with Zach Fort

01.19.2024

On this week’s interview Paul talks to Zach Fort of the New Mexico Shooting Sports Association about Gov. Lujan Grisham’s plans to take away your guns during the 2024 legislative session. We know from this summer’s radical and anti-constitutional executive order that this Gov. is not a believer in gun rights or the 2nd Amendment. What are her and the Legislature’s plans and what can New Mexicans do to fight back?

MLG’s incredible Ronald Reagan Day proclamation

01.19.2024

Sometimes people surprise you. This is one such case. Recently, the Rio Grande Foundation was asked by our friends at Americans for Tax Reform to obtain a proclamation celebrating Ronald Reagan Day (Feb. 6, 2024) which would have been Reagan’s 113th birthday. We weren’t sure what we’d get from Gov. Lujan Grisham’s office, but were positively shocked to receive the proclamation below.

Not only is the proclamation well-done, but it specifically calls out Reagan’s political and economic success thanks to his conservative principles. It stands in stark contrast to the policies emanating from Washington and Santa Fe (to name just two).

What’s wrong with 4-day school weeks?

01.18.2024

Gov. Lujan Grisham is seemingly hell-bent on stopping school districts in New Mexico from operating on a four day week. She specifically called out these districts in her State of the State address as well and has put $100 million in her budget to ensure ALL New Mexico districts embrace a 5 day week. 

Just to be crystal clear, 4 day weeks don’t mean less time in school. New Mexico students have to be in their classrooms for a set amount of time.

Check out the quotes from this article from Missouri (where 4 day weeks are common and popular):

Superintendent Gregg Klinginsmith said with the district being tucked halfway between St. Louis and Columbia it faces unique challenges.

“I wish this was a story about how a rural school district is able to pay teachers $100,000 a year, and we’re paying them what they’re worth and that sort of thing, but we just don’t have that revenue,” he said.

Since they don’t have the money, Klinginsmith said their bargaining chip for keeping employees is time.

“We want to retain our best teachers and attract the best teachers and so the four-day school weeks has definitely helped us do that,” he said.

The district is currently in their fifth year using this method.

According to Klinginsmith, they have seen teacher retention immensely improve, but they’re not the only ones it’s benefitting.

“We saw a drastic decrease in student discipline, and we know that discipline is a major disruption to learning,” he said.

Here is another article and there are plenty more where that came from. We’re not saying every school in New Mexico should have a 4 day school week. What we ARE saying is that spending $100 million to force schools to comply with 5 day school weeks is exactly the kind of top-down control that has failed our State and kids.

Missouri did a study on the four day school week issue and found “overall, the four-day schedule had no statistically significant effect on either academic achievement or building growth.”

On the other hand a survey of elementary school parents found that parents overwhelmingly preferred a 4 day school week:

MLG’s Unelected Construction Industries Commission votes 6-2 in favor of EV charger mandates

01.17.2024

Despite public opposition including 750 signatures from verified New Mexicans opposed to the Gov.’s latest proposal to foist EV charging stations on commercial and residential buildings, the Construction Industries Commission decided today to adopt the Gov.’s mandate. Mandating EV chargers and equipping them for future EV chargers will raise costs on new commercial and residential buildings.

The vote was 6-2. You can find the list of members here though we know that Dale Armstrong was one of the opponents, we don’t have the exact vote.

Here is a useful if highly biased take from an environmental group that supported the new codes.

Albuquerque considers requiring EV chargers in new developments - KOB.com

NM Film Office “Study” Attempts to Justify Subsidies

01.17.2024

Another study of New Mexico’s film subsidy program has been released. This one is by the Film Office itself (so we KNOW it is an honest assessment, lol). You can read one media report here.

Essentially, the Film Office report appears to be a response to the Legislative Finance Committee’s report which was released in September of 2023 and largely trashed film subsidies as being an inefficient economic development tool.

So, do you believe the study from an agency whose existence relies in part on the continued impression that it is economically-beneficial or do you believe a report published by the Legislature’s internal think tank? Obviously, the LFC report has more inherent credibility, but their report is also based on better, more tangible data.

The Film Office report relies heavily on hard-to-define terms like “direct, indirect, and induced economic impacts.” The LFC on the other hand directly compares the film incentive program against other economic development incentives. While we’d rather see the money used for tax reforms/reductions at least this is a tangible comparison.

The fact is that New Mexico’s film subsidies are economic losers. They require a revenue source like oil and gas to fund them. Study after study on film subsidies have come to similar conclusions, but sadly with the current Gov. and Legislature there is little likelihood of reining them in.

Film Tax Incentives Back in the Spotlight

 

Tipping Point NM episode 572: A Look at Bills for the 2024 New Mexico Legislative Session and more

01.17.2024

The session begins today. For starters Paul sits down with Carol Wight of the NM Restaurant Association to discuss a proposal for paid leave as well as plans to increase taxes on alcohol. You can watch that brief conversation here:

These are a few of the pre-filed bills that we are looking at with some additional links:

HB 41: Clean fuel standard; https://sourcenm.com/2024/01/12/lawmakers-add-new-clean-fuel-standards-to-environmental-improvement-act/

HB 37: Limits on NM’s capital gains deduction;

HB 48: increase royalty rates on oil and gas; https://capitalandmain.com/new-mexico-governor-kickstarts-effort-to-overhaul-oil-and-gas-regulation

NM to received $68 million to build an electric vehicle charging network. Details are scanty at this point, but the Gov. is very excited.

Hertz will sell off 20,000 EV’s and purchase gas cars instead.

Rail Runner ridership rebounded a bit in 2023, but it remains 22% below pre-pandemic levels. Will it ever achieve pre-pandemic levels or are we at the “new-normal.” What about other environmental solutions?

Even with the push to renewables NM’s Land Office gets a higher percentage of its revenues from oil and gas than before the current commissioner took over.

Even with “free” buses ABQ’s bus ridership remains FAR below pre-pandemic numbers

01.16.2024

Albuquerque began its “free” bus program on January 1, 2022. The program is touted by transit advocates and leftists as a big success, but “free” buses have NOT had a discernable positive impact on bus ridership. As the chart below (compiled via public records requests) shows, the City’s bus system is nowhere near recovering from the COVID 19 pandemic and is unlikely to do so. The following are ridership numbers:

2016: 10,901,920
2017: 9,684,618
2018: 9,571,853
2019: 9,024,374
2020 5,097,090
2021 4,396,480
2022 5,998,565
2023: 6,276,509

In fact, as of 2023 ridership on Albuquerque’s buses is down by 30.4% relative to 2019, the last year before the COVID pandemic. That’s an even worse drop than the 22% drop experienced by the RailRunner over the same time frame.

Polich column on EV’s full of misinformation

01.15.2024

The following column by RGF board member Julie Wright appeared in the Albuquerque Journal  on Saturday, January 13, 2024. It is in response to Judith Polich’s column in which she purported to clear up “EV disinformation.” 

Julie M. Wright(1).jpg | | abqjournal.com

Judith Polich’s columns can always be counted on for a slanted approach to the “climate crisis,” but her latest in which she purports to debunk “misinformation” on electric vehicles takes the cake. Her article is positively full of factual mistakes.

Polich claims that “EV’s have no emissions” but that is simply wrong. EV’s do not have tailpipe emissions, but they generate large amounts from their manufacture and especially all the materials (including rare earth) that go into the expensive batteries that make them go. Polich even admits her error in admitting that PNM is NOT using 100% “renewable” energy and won’t for more than a decade. And that’s if the ambitious energy transition goes smoothly.

But even “renewables” require battery backup, massive deployment of high-tension wires, and the manufacture and installation of solar panels or wind turbines. All of those activities currently and for the foreseeable future require traditional energy sources.

Polich does politely acknowledge the role of internal combustion vehicles in solving the horse manure problem. Undoubtedly, there were some holdouts, but internal combustion cars were clearly superior technology and have become dominant for more than 100 years. Government didn’t have to mandate their use (unlike the current situation with EV’s).

Speaking of subsidies, Polich notes that Biden’s infrastructure law purports to deploy 500,000 EV charging stations nationwide (at a cost of $7.5 billion to taxpayers). What she doesn’t note is that the law was passed in 2021 and the first charging station was just deployed in December.

Furthermore, EV’s are not new technology. In fact, EV’s and steam powered cars were commonplace at the time of Henry Ford. The internal combustion engine was better technology and it still is. In fact, the fuel efficiency of gas-powered cars gas powered cars has improved 35.4% in the Past 20 Years.

Air pollution from gas powered cars. According to the EPA, new gas-powered passenger vehicles are 98-99% cleaner for most tailpipe pollutants compared to the 1960s. Fuels are much cleaner—lead has been eliminated, and sulfur levels are more than 90% lower than they were prior to regulation. Efficiency continues to improve and even Polich and her personal choice of a gas hybrid provides further evidence for this.

Ultimately, electric vehicles may someday prove superior to gas cars, but even Polich tacitly admits that they aren’t close to replacing gas cars at this time. Those “opponents” Polich cites mostly oppose the mandates and massive subsidies being employed by Gov. Lujan Grisham and others to achieve their goal.

Answers to Common Questions About Electric Vehicles

Tipping Point NM Episode 571: Lori Coleman – Opposition to Proposed Mimbres Peaks National Monument

01.12.2024

On this week’s interview Paul talks to Lori Coleman. Lori is a small-time miner in Southern, NM and the Florida mountains.

She owns Spanish Stirrup Rock Shop, LLC and the SS Stone Gallery in Luna County and Lincoln County, New Mexico.

She opposes plans by some politicians in New Mexico to make the region a 245,000 acre National Monument which Lori believes would have detrimental impacts on her business, access to the area, and the local economy.

Paul and Lori discuss serious issues with the process and how New Mexicans can push back against this land grab. One way is by adding your name to the linked petition.