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Why is New Mexico not realizing its potential?
Updated: 55 min 27 sec ago

Medicaid: More of the Same

Wed, 2016-04-27 14:46

The state’s healthcare program for “the poor,” expanded by Governor Martinez under Obamacare, is spewing a river of red ink. Medicaid is projected to generate a deficit of $417 million in the 2016 and 2017 fiscal years. And the future is likely to be even darker. By 2020, the state estimates that 43 percent of New Mexicans will be signed up for “free” healthcare.

To cut costs, the Human Services Department is proposing to “rescind previous reimbursement increases to nearly 2,000 general physicians and trim payment rates to hospitals by between 3 percent and 8 percent.” Obstetrics and preventive care would be exempt, but previous “rate increases also would be rolled back at 29 hospitals that receive supplemental payments to offset uncompensated care.”

Late last year, the Foundation explained to legislators in Santa Fe that nationally, “over half of providers no longer accept Medicaid patients,” and of the “doctors who do accept Medicaid, the provider networks are narrow and nearly one-third face wait times of over a month.” (Not surprisingly, the Health and Human Services Committee’s far-left members assured us that such conditions don’t prevail in New Mexico.)

With reimbursements likely to fall here, look for more providers to follow Farmington family physician Holly Abernethy, who The Wall Street Journal reported:

has turned away all newly eligible Medicaid beneficiaries because she can’t sustain her practice expenses if her proportion of Medicaid patients grows much beyond her current 13%.

For a moderately complex office visit, she is paid about the same as [a] nurse practitioner: about $80 from Medicaid and about $160 on average from commercial insurance.

Says Dr. Abernethy, “I would love to see every Medicaid patient that comes through my door. If you give people coverage, they should be able to utilize it.” But making it work would extend her workday, and “I have three small children and I miss them.”

A recent investigation by the Legislative Finance Committee uncovered average Medicaid wait times “from three weeks to nearly two months,” as well as “significantly fewer [primary care providers] accepting new Medicaid patients than has been reported by the [managed care organizations].”

Medicaid provides lousy services, and is an albatross around the necks of taxpaying New Mexicans. It’s time for the state to reverse its disastrous expansion, and work with other states to lobby Washington for meaningful reforms of a program that is completely out of control.

Absurdity in government: it’s a crime to ship dentures across state lines

Wed, 2016-04-27 08:32

To say that government policies are often absurd is to state the obvious, but one ridiculous federal law caught our attention recently: that is a federal law that makes it illegal to ship dentures across state lines.

Interestingly, this issue impacts two distinct areas that have gained RGF’s attention in recent months. The first is “dental therapists.” Dowd Muska wrote a piece about how New Mexico could deregulate dentistry slightly to improve the lives of thousands of New Mexicans. Obviously, the denture shipment law was meant to benefit a protected industry, not consumers who may have left their dentures in an hotel room in Topeka.

On the other hand, there is likely widespread ignorance of this law. So, imagine the surprise of a senior citizen getting busted by law enforcement for this ridiculous “crime.” It’s the kind of that might make average folks realize that the old adage “ignorance of the law is no excuse” is simply not realistic and that intent must be considered (mens rea).

RGF’s Gessing weighs in on de la Cruz Cannes “Economic Development” trip: Eye on New Mexico

Tue, 2016-04-26 22:57

On this week’s “Eye on New Mexico” on Channel 4, KKOB, Chris Ramirez talked to Commissioner de la Cruz and Marcos Gonzales of the Bernalillo County Economic Development Department about economic development and the Commissioner’s trip to France. My interview starts at the 4 minute mark and de la Cruz defends the $20K spent on the trip after that.

So far, the Commissioner admits that no specific projects have resulted from the trip. I’m sure we’ll be notified if that changes.

Dropping a Dime on ‘Public Servants’

Tue, 2016-04-26 13:15

States and cities, the Pew Research Center found, are launching apps that empower citizens and public employees to report waste, fraud, and abuse. While there have long been “hotlines for reporting misuse of government resources,” the new tech is adding “a new level of sophistication.” The smartphone-enabled systems “allow people to submit photos and videos in support of their claims; and in some cases auditors can use the app to respond and ask for follow-up information, all while maintaining a tipster’s anonymity.”

A quick search found that the Land of Enchantment doesn’t have any W/F/A apps in place. But the Office of the State Auditor’s division of Special Audits & Investigations takes tips via phone and a website. The New Mexico Human Services Department does the same, for “public assistance fraud” and “Medicaid provider fraud.” The Program and Network Integrity Department of OptumHealth, which “manages behavioral health services for New Mexico’s Behavioral Health Collaborative,” can be reached here. The City of Albuquerque’s Inspector General is online as well.

With governments at the city, county, and state levels facing mounting fiscal woes, New Mexicans can do their fellow taxpayers a solid by reporting the misuse of public resources. Waging war on W/F/A cannot be the sole answer to solvency issues — solutions include welfare reform, privatization, school choice, smart infrastructure spending, and public-sector compensation packages that are based on market realities — but it’s a start.

NM cultural issues and policy woes interrelated

Mon, 2016-04-25 13:20

It is one thing to criticize policies. It is another to criticize culture, but just today it is being reported that one in ten New Mexico children have a parent in jail.

Certainly, there are a number of policy ideas that can help alleviate that problem, and we at the Rio Grande Foundation spend most of our time focusing on the former, there is no doubt that New Mexico has some unique issues relating to culture. In some ways, culture is New Mexico’s greatest strength. Its unique history of Native, Hispanic, and Anglo mingling (not to mention other ethnic groups) is what makes this state so unique, but “culture” is means many things and as a new report by the Family Prosperity Initiative points out (see map below), New Mexico faces some unique “culture-related” problems.

The chart ranks all 50 states on Violent Crime‬, Property Crime‬, Unwed Births, Religion‬, and Education‬. One may quibble with the inclusion of Religion, but I think think the rest are self-explanatory as beneficial or harmful. Economic success can occur even in places with weak cultural indicators (Florida and Georgia to name two), but it would be great if New Mexico’s culture could shift in a way that supplemented the much-needed move towards freer markets.


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Happy Earth Day thanks to fossil fuels — Farmington, with TWO coal plants has nation’s cleanest air!

Fri, 2016-04-22 09:34

Today is Earth Day. And, no matter what you might prefer to think, fossil fuels have helped to dramatically improve and lengthen human lives. As the chart below shows, we will continue to rely on those fossil fuels for much of our energy consumption for decades into the future.

Interestingly while radical environmentalists love to trash coal as a “dirty” source of energy, Farmington, NM, which is adjacent to not one, but two power plants (Navajo and San Juan Generating Stations, was recently given extremely high marks for air quality by the American Lung Association. In fact, Farmington was:

  • Ranked 1 for cleanest metropolitan areas in the country for 24-hour particle pollution
  • Ranked 2 for cleanest metropolitan areas in the country for annual particle pollution

So, fossil fuels aren’t going anywhere. The good news is that living in close proximity to them doesn’t have a significant, negative impact on some major measures of air quality. And, these fossil fuels have probably been the single-largest factor in improving and lengthening human life on planet earth.



Free the unions to only represent their members!

Wed, 2016-04-20 14:27

We at the Rio Grande Foundation talk a lot  about the need for the Legislature to embrace the concept of “right to work.” The idea is that workers should be free to join or pay dues to a labor union. In response, unions argue that they should be able to extract money from workers who don’t wish to affiliate with them because those unions “have” to represent ALL workers in that bargaining unit.

But, as Vincent Vernuccio of the Michigan-based Mackinac Center points out in a new column at National Review Online, “unions have lobbied very hard for a monopoly on representing all workers — even non-members — because it gives them a stronger hand at the bargaining table.” The answer, writes Vernuccio, is for policymakers to “call the unions’ bluff” and adopt a policy called “worker’s choice” that would allow workers to represent themselves while freeing unions from having to support non-members.

The idea that a third party that you do not support financially or philosophically can legally insert itself between workers and their employers is just bizarre on its face and illustrates clearly that unions are not like any other non-governmental organizations insofar as they can forcibly insert themselves between two voluntary actors.

A perfect example of why an individual might want to negotiate their own salary came to us in the 2016 legislative session when the teachers’ unions successfully killed legislation allowing highly-trained “adjunct teachers” to teach in New Mexico classrooms. Even if the law were to be changed to allow those adjuncts, the union contracts would not be written in ways favorable to those teachers. Already, they would be forced to pay into a pension system that they’d never benefit from.

Ultimately, “worker’s choice” helps our educational system and workplaces in general go beyond on-size-fits-all approaches and allow workers to obtain the salary and benefits that make the most sense for them. And, if those “solo” workers miss out on union representation and feel that they are being taken advantage of by their employers, that will make them all the more likely to join and support the unions.

Sorry oil and gas producers, but free trade works both ways

Tue, 2016-04-19 15:44

With America now a net energy exporter and New Mexico a long-term energy producer, we at the Rio Grande Foundation have spent a fair amount of time supporting the opening of new markets for both oil and gas. Specifically, the Foundation worked to allow crude oil exports and liquefied natural gas exports.

Now, some oil and gas producers who have found that they are unable to compete with foreign competition, are working to impose limits on oil and gas imports. I don’t think they’ll have much success in Washington and I don’t think Gov. Martinez and the Legislature can do anything even if they want to (which I doubt they do), but this just doesn’t look good for an industry that typically prides itself on competing in a global marketplace and pricing its products in response to those market forces.

Americans are benefiting at the pump from the new technologies being deployed in the oil patch every time they fill up. They aren’t going to go for import limits to drive up the price. Worse, unfriendly (anti-oil and gas) lawmakers, and there are plenty, will use pleas for government protection to bully the industry even more than they already do.

In recent years the industry benefited from high prices and booming production due to new technologies. As an aside, this has already reduced the need to import oil into the US. Now, prices are down, but that will change. Asking for government protection is no way to restore market balance.  New Mexico oil and gas producers should abandon the idea immediately.




New “Climate Hustle” movie takes on global warming

Mon, 2016-04-18 14:08

A new movie being shown in Albuquerque (and around the nation) on one night only, Monday, May 2nd, aims to expose the corruption and pseudoscience being perpetuated by the United Nations, EPA, and Obama administration on the issue of climate change, renewable energy, and other big government environmental initiatives.

The name of the movie is Climate Hustle and it will be shown at the UA Cottonwood Stadium 16 in Albuquerque at 7pm on Thursday, May 2nd.

The documentary is produced by CFACT, the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow. CFACT is a Washington, D.C. based public policy group that has been on the frontlines battling liberal environmentalists for over 30 years. With the upcoming election, we thought it critical that we all have solid facts on environmental and energy issues in order to prevent the radical left from drastically changing this country.

Climate Hustle has been featured on “Hannity,” and has been touted by the National Review as “Brutal and extremely funny.”

To purchase tickets and view theater locations and times visit:!

You can view the “Hannity” segment here:

And the trailer here:

Ilya Shapiro Luncheon: Justice Scalia’s Legacy and the Supreme Court’s Future — Albuquerque

Fri, 2016-04-15 14:43
Rio Grande Foundation Speaker Series Event:
Ilya Shapiro Discusses:
"The Scalia Legacy and the Future of the U.S. Supreme Court"

Click here for registration form.

The passing of Justice Antonin Scalia represented nothing less than the passing of an era in American jurisprudence. What is the judicial legacy of Scalia? How will his passing affect current and future Court decisions including the Friedrichs case on "Right to Work" for government employees?

What is the future of the Supreme Court?

Join us for lunch with Ilya Shapiro, Senior Fellow of Constitutional Studies at the Cato Institute. Ilya will discuss and analyze these and other important questions facing the nation and its highest Court.

  • Location:  Marriott Pyramid 5151 San Francisco Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM  87109
  • When:  Thursday, May 12, 2016, 12:00 noon to 1:00pm.
  • Cost:  Seating is limited and can be purchased at the discounted price of $30 until Thursday, May 5 2016; $40 after the 5th.

Ilya Shapiro is a senior fellow in constitutional studies at the Cato Institute and editor-in-chief of the Cato Supreme Court Review. Before joining Cato, he was a special assistant/adviser to the Multi-National Force in Iraq on rule-of-law issues and practiced at Patton Boggs and Cleary Gottlieb.

Shapiro is the co-author of Religious Liberties for Corporations? Hobby Lobby, the Affordable Care Act, and the Constitution (2014). He has contributed to a variety of academic, popular, and professional publications. He also regularly provides commentary for various media outlets, including CNN, Fox News, ABC, CBS, NBC, Univision and Telemundo, the Colbert Report, and NPR.

Shapiro lectures regularly on behalf of the Federalist Society, is a member of the Legal Studies Institute's board of visitors at The Fund for American Studies, was an inaugural Washington Fellow at the National Review Institute and a Lincoln Fellow at the Claremont Institute, and has been an adjunct professor at the George Washington University Law School. In 2015 National Law Journal named him to its list of 40 "rising stars" in the legal community.

Before entering private practice, Shapiro clerked for Judge E. Grady Jolly of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit. He holds an AB from Princeton University, an MSc from the London School of Economics, and a JD from the University of Chicago Law School (where he became a Tony Pati&#ntilde;o Fellow).

I Like Chinese (Jobs)

Fri, 2016-04-15 12:04

This week the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations, working with the Rhodium Group, reported that in 2015, “Chinese investments in acquisitions, new operations, and expansions in the U.S. grew to more than $15 billion … setting a new record. The number of Chinese-affiliated companies in the U.S. exceeded 1,900 by year-end, extending across more than 80 percent of congressional districts.”

Some of that revenue made its way to the Land of Enchantment: “New Mexico received its first significant Chinese investments in 2015, including three Red Lion Hotels in Farmington, Gallup (both NM-03), and Grants (NM-02).” A broad trend that is likely to impact trade-connected jobs here is the growth of China’s middle class, which is “increasingly eager to travel overseas.”

Trade is one of the few bright spots in New Mexico’s economy. As the Albuquerque Journal reported last year, jobs related to the export of goods “more than doubled from 7,986 in 2009 to 16, 546 in 2014, which was a five-year period when overall employment in the state was down by just less than 1 percent.”

Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump may hate globalization, but it’s clear that free trade offers opportunities for a state that has yet to stagger back to the economic health it enjoyed before the Great Recession. All the more reason to closely monitor the congressional delegation’s willingness to fall for protectionism’s false promises.

Radical journalist Amy Goodman to fundraise for taxpayer-supported KUNM, KSFR, and KNME

Thu, 2016-04-14 10:01

It never ceases to amaze me what the political left gets away with in New Mexico. Amy Goodman, the host of the nationally-syndicated Democracy Now! is one of the most radical left-wing journalists in America. There is no real analog on the right, but it would probably be a cross between Alex Jones and Rush Limbaugh.

And on April 26, Goodman will be in Santa Fe doing a fundraiser for those stations.

Now, we would never criticize a left-wing non-profit group like New Mexico Voices for Children for raising money by hosting a liberal commentator or journalist, even Ms. Goodman, but these are “public” radio and television stations (receiving taxpayer support). They are ostensibly “objective news” sources.

It’s time to end the charade. Privatize these “public” television and radio stations and let them serve their liberal, high-income “customers” without taxpayer support. Does anyone seriously believe that Downton Abbey or Sesame Street wouldn’t make it without government subsidy? Will we see future fundraisers with prominent conservative/free market speakers?

Deregulation: The Road Not Taken

Wed, 2016-04-13 12:05

Liberal activists are wailing about PNM’s request to hike its rates. As the Albuquerque Journal reported: “The utility wants … approval for $123.5 million in additional annual revenue, mostly to pay for about $655 million in investments it’s made in the electric system since 2010, the last time it received a rate increase. Among other things, the company also wants to raise the fixed monthly charge on customers’ bills by about 160 percent, from about $5 to $13, to better cover fixed costs as the rate of growth in electric consumption declines in New Mexico through energy efficiency programs and conservation.”

But concerns about the price of electricity shouldn’t lie solely with the left. The price of power can be a significant cost for many industries, and New Mexicans working to foster a vibrant private sector here should support reforms to make electricity more affordable.

It’s disappointing that in all the debate over PNM’s rates, deregulation is never mentioned. Many states have “restructured” their electricity markets over the last two decades. Some efforts have yielded dismal results, due to poorly designed plans that imposed as many — or more — mandates as were lifted. (California’s high-profile debacle is the best example.)

Yet several states adopted true deregulation, and customers of all kinds — residential, industrial, and commercial — benefited. Texas stands out, as does Pennsylvania. (The Keystone State has the lowest electric rates in the Northeast.)

In the words of the COMPETE Coalition’s William Massey: “Markets are working when regulators and policymakers give competition a chance. It drives prices to their lowest available levels.”

Power in four of our five neighbors is cheaper than it is in the Land of Enchantment. It’s time to revisit the Electric Utility Restructuring Act, which was passed in 1999 but repealed four years later. (In 2003, the Foundation presciently warned that the repeal portended “nothing but high prices in the long run.”)

Competition offers the best path forward for electricity in New Mexico. Why are elected officials AWOL on deregulation?

Putting oil/gas off-limits bad move for wrong reasons

Tue, 2016-04-12 10:43

Given the challenges facing New Mexico’s economy — and with the price of gasoline on the rebound — we at the Rio Grande Foundation expressed our view that the citizens and political leadership in Sandoval County should have given SandRidge Energy a fair hearing over their desire to drill an exploratory well in the county. Unfortunately, that did not happen and SandRidge left.

Now, out-of-state environmental groups including Food and Water Watch, the Sierra Club, and Environment New Mexico are pushing a complete moratorium (five years in duration) on oil and gas drilling within Sandoval County. These groups are philosophically opposed to the traditional sources of energy that fund one-third of New Mexico’s budget. There are no unusual issues with drilling for oil and gas in this part of Sandoval County, rather there is a political opportunity to capitalize on fear of the unknown to advance their anti-energy agenda.

It is time for the citizens of Sandoval County to push back against any such ban and support jobs and economic opportunities for their friends and neighbors.

The oil and gas industries in Sandoval County alone generated $25.8 million (according to 2013 data from the New Mexico Tax Research Institute). That’s the production value alone, not including the so-called “multipliers” and other follow-on impacts.

The anti-frackers nearly hyperventilate in opposing the use of “hydraulic fracturing” in order to access new sources of oil and gas, but must rely on fear and ignorance to generate public opposition.

The Obama Environmental Protection Agency has repeatedly found “fracking” to be safe. Indeed, the process has been in use since the 1940s. If it was a flawed or dangerous process, there would have been large numbers of serious issues by now.

A three-year study by the University of Cincinnati determined hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking,” has no effect on groundwater. Unfortunately, when asked if the university planned to publicize the results, Dr. Amy Townsend-Small, an assistant professor at the University of Cincinnati Department of Geology and the leader of the study, said there were no plans to do so.

Said Townsend-Small of the University’s decision, “I’m sad to say this, but some of our funders, the groups that had given us funding in the past, were a little disappointed in our results. They feel that fracking is scary and so they were hoping this data could lead to a reason to ban it.”

The science doesn’t support a ban on fracking, but neither does the law.

A January 2015 federal district court decision found Mora County’s ban on oil and gas drilling to be illegal. It is likely that a similar fate would befall a ban enacted in Sandoval County. The legal wrangling alone could cost the county millions of dollars.

Of course, economic losses would only grow if those already doing business in the county decided to take a “wait and see” approach toward engaging in further drilling in the county.

Jobs in New Mexico’s oil and gas industries are some of the best “working-class” jobs in New Mexico.

Our state continues to struggle with job creation and an exodus of young people. It is unbelievable that the majority of citizens in Sandoval County would prefer to see young people — their kids and grandkids — leave New Mexico rather than allow for an industry that New Mexico relies upon to be shunned for no good reason.

Sandoval County is unique — within the Albuquerque metro area — to have significant oil and gas deposits. Putting them off-limits would be a bad move made for the wrong reasons.

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

State has many opportunities to reduce spending

Mon, 2016-04-11 16:28

Journal columnist Winthrop Quigley seems to believe that what New Mexico’s struggling economy needs right now is higher taxes. We at the Rio Grande Foundation couldn’t disagree more and believe raising taxes would have further deleterious effects on our economy.

Disagreements aside, we do share agreement with Quigley that New Mexico’s tax structure must be reformed. The gross receipts tax is uniquely harmful to the growth and development of small businesses. It also encourages businesses to lobby the Legislature to lobby for exemptions or outright subsidies before locating here. The Legislature must act to reform this harmful tax structure.

It is a myth that New Mexico is a low-tax state. According to the Federation of Tax Administrators, our tax burden as a percent of personal income is ninth-heaviest in the nation. This is far heavier than the tax burdens of our more economically successful neighbors : Arizona ranks 39, Colorado 45, Oklahoma 37, Texas 44 and Utah 31.

Now for the (substantial) disagreements.

Quigley argues that New Mexico public employee salaries are lower than those in neighboring states. Salaries are just part of the compensation for any worker, especially government employees.

According to Key Policy data from 2013, New Mexico state and local workers make 20 percent more than their private-sector counterparts once pensions and benefits are included.

This is the 12th-highest compensation ratio in the country and far higher than in neighboring states. It also is a very good argument for serious reform of New Mexico’s government pension system.

More importantly, public employees should be paid based on what the market will bear. New Mexico’s unemployment rate is higher than that of its neighbors. The pay of government workers should reflect local market conditions.

Perhaps more importantly, New Mexico’s government workforce is bloated. Again according to Key Policy data, New Mexico has the second-most government employees relative to private-sector workers.

When the number of government workers is compared to the population they serve and educators are removed from the equation, New Mexico falls to 10th-highest (according to Governing Magazine), but still far in excess of our neighbors.

As to specific ideas, we concur with Journal readers who have pointed to the RailRunner and Spaceport as likely cuts. Obviously, those aren’t enough. The next fattest target is higher education.

According to data from State Higher Education officers, New Mexico spent the fifth-most on higher education among U.S. states in 2011, the most recent year for which data are available.

The LFC has done some excellent work on the proliferation of branch campuses (number 25 at last count). It is time to reduce their numbers significantly, especially with overall enrollment declining.

Another area of significant savings is the politically popular, but economically dubious film subsidy program.

Similar programs have been panned by economists from across the political spectrum. A 2014 analysis done at the request of New Mexico’s Legislature found that the film program generated 43 cents in tax revenue for every state tax dollar spent.

Simply put, despite all the rosy press releases, New Mexico’s film program is a money-loser for New Mexico.

Lest one be misled to believe that only “liberal” government programs must be on the chopping block, New Mexico’s Local Economic Development Act program should be cut. Earlier this year, the LFC reported that “the state does not receive sufficient reporting from businesses using LEDA funds to properly evaluate” the program.

One company just received $325,000 from LEDA for the “creation” of just 14 new jobs. With those 14 employees paying income taxes on their $45,000-$50,000 salaries to New Mexico at 5 percent annually, it will take a decade for the state to recoup its “investment.”

And that assumes that the expansion would not have happened without state money.

Cutting the budget is no fun. We need to grow our economy, but our tax code is one of several reasons our economy hasn’t kept up with our neighbors’. Raising taxes will only further damage New Mexico.

Quigley Doubles Down on Ignorance

Mon, 2016-04-11 11:26

It’s one thing to hold fast to your perspective on an important public-policy issue.

It’s another to pretend that there aren’t any perspectives but yours.

The Albuquerque Journal’s far-left columnist Winthrop Quigley has once again penned a column arguing for tax hikes in the Land of Enchantment. The Foundation’s Paul Gessing takes the case for tax hikes apart in an op-ed that also ran yesterday, but one claim from Quigley’s latest flimflam must not go unanswered.

“Every expert I can find,” the columnist wrote, “says that to improve an economy in the 21st century you need to invest in your people and in your infrastructure.”

Memo to Quigley: You need to look harder.

Hundreds — maybe thousands — of economists, policy analysts, and scholars disagree. Here are just a few.

* Richard Vedder: The economist has found that contrary to the claim that big spending on higher education generates growth, it’s a booming economy that produces the revenue that politicians devote to government colleges and universities. His Center for College Affordability and Productivity is a valuable resource.

* Eric Hanushek: The Stanford economist, in the latest edition of Education Next, revisits the finding of the Coleman Commission. Now five decades old, the massive research project concluded that “schools bring little influence to bear on a child’s achievement that is independent of his background and general social context; and that this very lack of an independent effect means that the inequalities imposed on children by their home, neighborhood, and peer environment are carried along to become the inequalities with which they confront adult life at the end of school.” Hanushek notes that despite massive increases in per pupil spending, “U.S. student performance is virtually unchanged from that in the early 1970s.”

* Grover J. “Russ” Whitehurst: A senior fellow at the liberal Brookings Institution, Whitehurst is one of the nation’s leading critics of “universal preschool.” Research, he summarized, has shown that “statewide [preschool] programs are not working to meaningfully increase the academic achievement or social/emotional skills and dispositions of children from low-income families.”

* Edward Glaeser: A Harvard professor and author of Triumph of the City, Glaeser believes that infrastructure in America “needs intelligent reform, not floods of extra financing or quixotic dreams of new moon adventures or high-speed railways to nowhere,” and that “infrastructure investment only makes sense when there is a clear problem that needs solving and when benefits exceed costs.”

* Veronique de Rugy: A senior research fellow with the Mercatus Center, de Rugy concedes that a “certain amount of public spending on public works is necessary to perform essential government functions,” but understands the pesky reality that such “spending tends to suffer from massive cost overruns, waste, fraud, and abuse.”

Don’t look for Quigley to quote these scholars anytime soon. It’s much easier to parrot talking points from New Mexico Voices for Children than to comprehensively survey all the research on the “need to invest in your people and in your infrastructure.”

Cash-strapped Bernalillo County “celebrates” County Government Month with Billboard

Fri, 2016-04-08 16:35

Leave it up to the County that saw one of its commissioners head to Cannes, France on “business” to threaten to raise taxes and then take out a billboard costing $5,000 up to celebrate “County Government Month.” The billboard is on the north side of I-25 North just past the Big I and looks just like the image below:

It’s yet another sign of the out-sized role government plays in New Mexico that this is even a thing.

And, as if that were not absurd enough, the same cash-strapped County is also considering subsidizing the Santolina development with numerous “TIDD’s” (also known as tax increment financing). Of TIF’s, Randal O’Toole says, “City officials regard tax-increment financing as free money, when actually they are stealing it from other taxing entities.” O’Toole also argues that, “Many people see the problems with tax-increment financing and think that TIF laws need reform. But in fact, no reforms will work; tax-increment financing should simply be abolished.”

Hollywood Boycotts: Are Guns and Hydrocarbons Next?

Thu, 2016-04-07 11:01

While social issues lie outside the Foundation’s focus, it has been more than amusing to watch the entertainment industry’s call to boycott states that enact “religious liberty” legislation. Rob Reiner, for example, has thundered that unless the Tar Heel State’s “hateful law is repealed and LGBT North Carolinians are treated with the equal dignity they deserve, I will not film another production in North Carolina.”

There’s not much of a chance that such laws will ever be adopted here, but don’t think there aren’t other reasons why Hollywood’s groupthinkers might target New Mexico for inadequate fealty to political correctness.

Possibility one: guns. As the Albuquerque Journal reported earlier this year, almost “50 percent of New Mexicans have a gun in the home,” the state “is just one of three states that permits people to openly carry weapons into sessions of the … Legislature,” New Mexico “had the eighth highest rate of firearms deaths in the United States” in 2014, and in “the past five years, the number of visits to New Mexico emergency rooms for firearm injuries increased 65 percent.”

Possibility two: “fossil fuels.” No cause means more to L.A. moonbats than “climate change,” and among the states, New Mexico is seventh in natural-gas production and sixth in petroleum production.

New Mexico’s disastrous subsidization of film-and-television productions has gouged taxpayers and failed to produce a viable, sustained entertainment industry. We don’t need another reason to scrap the program. But the possibility of future boycotts, based on the Land of Enchantment’s culture and/or economy — #NoGunsInMyState, #NoFossilFuelsInMyState? — can’t be ruled out.

Rio Grande Foundation Launches NEW Radio Show “Tipping Point New Mexico” This Saturday, April 9 from noon to 3pm

Wed, 2016-04-06 09:23

The Rio Grande Foundation is launching a new radio show on a new home, “The Rock of Talk” 95.9FM and 1600AM. The show called “Tipping Point New Mexico” will air Saturdays weekly from noon to 3pm.

Hosts will rotate but will include RGF’s Paul Gessing, Dowd Muska, and Burly Cain.

Issues addressed on the show will include New Mexico’s economy and the importance of 2016 in turning our state around. If you want to participate in the discussion, you can call in at: 505-550-5500.

This week we’ll talk about Albuquerque Rapid Transit, the push by some to raise taxes in New Mexico, and more.




No Better Time to Kill the Fail Runner

Tue, 2016-04-05 13:35

Local governments in the Albuquerque region, like their counterparts in the state’s hinterlands, are facing mounting fiscal pressures. New Mexico’s “recovery” is one of the worst in the nation, while the costs of welfare, public-employee compensation, and subsidized healthcare remain on autopilot.

In metro Albuquerque, shortfalls are exacerbated by the cruel reality of the Rail Runner’s ravenous appetite for revenue. Yes, ten years after it launched — the formal anniversary is in July — the nation’s most disastrous commuter-rail line is still around.

Here’s the projected revenue breakdown for fiscal 2017, courtesy the Mid-Region Council of Governments:

As for “demand,” the Rail Runner continues to attract fewer and fewer “customers,” with ridership dropping by 12.7 percent between 2010 and 2014:

Killing the Rail Runner won’t free taxpayers from the debt the state incurred to cover infrastructure costs. Bondholders must be paid, no matter what, and astronomical balloon payments are due in the 2020s. But shutting the boondoggle down will save the $15.4 million in operating subsidies provided by gross-receipts taxes. And selling the rolling stock and other assets to anyone willing to make an offer will at least recoup some of taxpayers’ “investment.”

There’s no time like the present to admit that the Rail Runner has been a disaster. It should be euthanized, immediately.