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Why is New Mexico not realizing its potential?
Updated: 5 min 46 sec ago

New Bill Would End Policing for Profit in New Mexico

Fri, 2015-02-20 13:32
(Albuquerque, NM) – Today, Republican Representative Zachary J. Cook introduced a bill designed to end civil asset forfeiture—also known as “policing for profit”—in New Mexico. This unfair practice allows police to seize and keep property of citizens who haven’t even been charged with a crime, never mind convicted. Rep. Cook’s legislation would end the legal fiction of civil forfeiture—that property can be responsible for a crime—and replaces it with criminal forfeiture. Criminal forfeiture requires a conviction of a person as a prerequisite to losing property tied to the crime.

“Even in cases where a person has not been convicted, or even accused of a crime, the police can seize personal property and keep it for their own gain,” said Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation. “This practice should outrage any American who values the property rights guaranteed to them by the Fifth Amendment of the Constitution.”

Bipartisan legislation has already been introduced in both houses of Congress that would dramatically reform federal civil asset forfeiture laws. The Fifth Amendment Integrity Restoration (FAIR) Act has been introduced in the Senate by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Sen. Angus King (I-ME) and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT). In the House, Rep. Tim Walberg (R-MI), Rep. Scott Garrett (R-NJ), Rep. Tony Cárdenas (D-CA), Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) introduced an identical version of the FAIR Act.


The bill to end civil asset forfeiture in New Mexico is supported by an ideologically diverse range of organizations including the Rio Grande Foundation, the Institute for Justice, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of New Mexico, and the New Mexico Drug Policy Alliance.

No one acquitted of a crime in criminal court should lose property through forfeiture in civil court. This legislation ensures New Mexico remains tough on crime. Guilty people will lose the fruits of their crime. Equally important, innocent people will keep the fruits of their labor.

- Lee U. McGrath, Legislative Counsel, Institute for Justice

Policing for profit is very much alive and well in New Mexico. In 2011, the ACLU of New Mexico took legal action after police seized thousands of dollars from a vacationing father and son, even though they were never even accused of a crime. Innocent people in New Mexico should never fear that law enforcement officers will strip them of their property without due process.

- Peter Simonson, Executive Director, American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico

For decades civil asset forfeiture practices have robbed innocent people, taking money right out of their wallets—or even taking their home and their car—without even charging them with a crime. Like other drug war programs, civil asset forfeiture is disproportionately used against poor people of color who cannot afford to hire lawyers to get their property back.

-       Emily Kaltenbach, State Director, Drug Policy Alliance


Profiling for Profit? Cops Take $17K From Father, Son (ABQ Journal)

VIDEO: “Police Profiling for Profit in New Mexico” – An interview with civil asset forfeiture victim Stephen Skinner (YouTube)

Institute for Justice report on Policing for Profit in New Mexico

In depth investigation into civil asset forfeiture (Washington Post)

Right to work and unemployment

Fri, 2015-02-20 10:20

The point was made in today’s Albuquerque Journal that six of the top 10 states in terms of those having the highest unemployment rates are “right to work.” Whether that is relevant or not is another story, but as the chart below from our friends at the Illinois Policy Institute shows, unemployment rates for blacks and Latinos are somewhat lower in “right to work” states than in non-right to work states.

The question is what impact “right too work” has on a particular state’s unemployment rate. After all, there are serious, well-documented problems with unemployment rate as a measurement.

We do know, however, that Americans are leaving “forced unionism” states and moving to “right to work” states:

And we also know that over time, far more jobs are going to “right too work” states.

A “snapshot” approach of one moment in time is interesting, but not adequate to understand the long-term impact of policies whether they be “right to work” or something else. Our 2012 study attempted to look at the long-term impacts of “right to work” laws and what they’d mean for New Mexico. A lot of critics want to use temporary blips in the data or inadequate measuring tools in an attempt to hurt our credibility.

Oh, and if you want a detailed, historical, discussion of the benefits of “right to work,” this is a good place to start.

Talking NM economy on Local, National, Global w/ Giovanni Haquani

Thu, 2015-02-19 12:26

I recently appeared on “Local, National, Global” to discuss a variety of economic policy issues facing New Mexico with Giovanni Haquani. I discuss “right to work” in the first segment:

In the second segment, we discuss education and the NM budget:

Lastly, we concluded with a discussion of some potential obstacles NM faces to economic growth:

Liberty on the Rocks Thursday, February 19 – Albuquerque

Tue, 2015-02-17 15:03
Join the Rio Grande Foundation For an Evening of
Discussion and Fellowship at Liberty on the Rocks!

"Liberty on the Rocks" is a no-host happy hour discussion and information-sharing session.

Liberty on the Rocks will be held at Scalo Northern Italian Grill which is located in Nob Hill at 3500 Central Avenue SE in Albuquerque. A private room has been reserved for this event. In October, Liberty on the Rocks will take place on Thursday, February 19th from 6:00 to 7:30PM.

There is no cost for this public event, but attendees are encouraged to have dinner or drinks. Registration is not required but is much appreciated. Click here to register online … it's fast and it's free!

Come celebrate liberty with us!

Paul Gessing’s recent interview on KRWG

Tue, 2015-02-17 13:31

There have been so many things going on during the 2015 legislative session, that keeping up has been a real challenge. The interview below was done with Fred Martino of KRWG TV in Las Cruces at the beginning of the legislative session in January. A lot has happened since then, but the discussion remains extremely relevant.

Oklahoma’s positive experience w/ Right to Work

Thu, 2015-02-12 17:05

A recent report from a union-funded, anti-“right to work” organization dealt with Oklahoma’s experience in the wake of adoption of a “right to work” law. After all, we haven’t had a great deal of time since Indiana and Michigan adopted such laws and Oklahoma borders New Mexico and more closely resembles the Land of Enchantment then the “Rust Belt” states.

Well, when it comes to Oklahoma and the unions’ favorite talking point that it’s “right to work for less,” nothing could be further from the truth. Check out the following chart showing the growth in personal incomes in the states surrounding New Mexico for the five years preceding adoption in Oklahoma (original data from BBER at UNM is available here):

Oklahoma and New Mexico lagged the region during that time span.

Compare that with the ten years following adoption of “right to work” in Oklahoma as seen below during which time Oklahoma (and New Mexico) led the region. Of course, New Mexico’s turnaround is nearly as dramatic as Oklahoma’s. What happened? For one, New Mexico adopted some of the biggest pro-growth tax cuts of any state at that time…and they worked:

State’s neediest students need education tax credits

Thu, 2015-02-12 10:35

Note: Education tax credit legislation has been introduced this year in the New Mexico House as HB 333 by Rep. James Strickler

Children aren’t widgets. Each child learns differently, and one-size-fits-all education cannot work for every pupil.

That’s why a growing number of elected officials and school-reform activists support education tax credits. The idea is simple: Shouldn’t parents decide which learning environment is best for their kids? And shouldn’t the options include public, private, or religious schools?

Offering scholarships to low-income children is smart policy for two reasons: boosted academic achievement and tax relief. Here’s how the system would operate: Individuals and corporations would receive tax breaks to fund scholarships to low-income students through qualified nonprofit organizations. Previous bills set the credits at up to $500 for individuals — $1,000 for married couples filing jointly — and up to $50,000 for corporations. Participating students need to qualify for the federal school-lunch program. Parents could use the scholarships to enroll their children in a secular or religious school, a charter school, or a Bureau of Indian Education school.

Tax credits are a longtime policy tool. This year alone, New Mexico lawmakers will consider offering breaks for owners of electric cars, solar-panel manufacturers, buyers of eldercare insurance, and hydrogen-fuel producers. A tax credit for parents who want their children to get the best education possible promises to have an immediate, positive, and far-reaching impact in The Land of Enchantment.

School choice is not untested. A number of states, including Arizona, Florida, Pennsylvania and Georgia, have programs geared to low-income families and/or children with special needs. Demand consistently outstrips supply — parents know a good thing when they see it.

It gets better. Any tax-credit measure could be structured to be “revenue neutral,” meaning it wouldn’t cost taxpayers a penny. The scholarships could be capped — earlier proposals limited the value to a fairly modest $5 million per year. If implemented properly, taxpayers could come out ahead, if the program let the state decrease the level of funding it provides to K-12 schools.

New Mexico’s lawmakers have debated education tax credits for over a decade, but the idea isn’t ideological or polarizing. All of the choice bills drafted during previous sessions have been introduced with bipartisan support, only to fall victim to opposition from party leadership.

A few years ago, Rep. Ray Begaye, D-Shiprock, summarized the underlying rationale for tuition tax credits. “It’s a fairly simple principle,” he said. “It goes back to parents being pro-active and the parents deciding the best educational opportunity for their children.”

School choice works because competition works. When schools compete for kids, kids win and schools win.

Nearly two dozen empirical studies have looked at choice programs. Twenty-two found that choice improves public schools, and one found no impact. But as the Foundation for Educational Choice notes, no study has found that choice harms public education.

New Mexico’s families deserve more education options. Jan. 25-31 is National School Choice Week, and thousands of parents, children, activists, and elected officials across the country will rally in support of a diversity of alternatives for kids. The need couldn’t be clearer. It’s time for New Mexico to embrace education scholarships.

D. Dowd Muska ( is research director of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.

Grover Norquist’s remarks at Rio Grande Foundation event in Albuquerque

Mon, 2015-02-09 10:05

Anti-tax, limited government activist Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform recently visited New Mexico to speak to supporters of the Rio Grande Foundation. His remarks can be seen below:

RGF president Paul Gessing appears on Morning Brew to discuss NM’s economy/Right to Work

Fri, 2015-02-06 17:48

The local daily morning tv show “Morning Brew” has been revamped with ABQ Biz First’s Dan Mayfield as the host. It is a very professional show and Mayfield does a great job keeping the show moving and asking probing questions. I was honored to be on the show on Wednesday, Feb. 4 with a true “all star” cast that included the Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Undersheriff Rudy Mora. As you can see below, the discussion tackled a wide array of issues.

First, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and I discuss “right to work” and other economic issues facing New Mexico with host Dan Mayfield

Then, Sanchez and I are joined by Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Undersheriff Rudy Mora explore the impact of poverty on crime and crime on our State’s economic situation and what can be done about it (including education reform and school choice).

A third segment included a discussion of “double dipping” and vocational education:

Purchase lottery tickets w/ credit card? At least tie lottery expansion to scholarship reform

Fri, 2015-02-06 15:18

Sen. John Arthur-Smith has been a relatively fiscally-conservative Democrat in the New Mexico Senate. Unfortunately, he has cooked up a piece of legislation, SB 355, that makes little sense. Smith’s bill would allow lottery tickets to be purchased with credit cards.

The New Mexico Lottery has recently been dealing with some unwanted national attention for seemingly ripping off a winner, but the lottery which funds the lottery scholarship program is looking for more suckers…er customers and allowing people to buy lottery tickets on credit is one way to increase the system’s revenues.

It is worth nothing that primarily low-income people play the lottery in the first place and that it is middle and upper class New Mexicans that benefit from the scholarship program.

But, it is most important that if we are going to accept this kind of uber-regressive “taxation,” that the program it finances, the lottery scholarship program, should actually use the money in a sensible manner. RGF laid out a few basic reforms that were mostly ignored by the Legislature in 2014. With Obama pushing community college and so few New Mexicans prepared by the K-12 system for college, it would seem that focusing scarce lottery scholarship resources on vocational and technical training at the state level would be the most sensible option for extending the system’s funds.

Unfortunately, Smith’s bill just pours more money into a poorly-managed system. There are real social costs to the lottery. Any effort to expand that pool of resources should at the very least come with reform “strings” attached.

How government programs trap people in poverty

Wed, 2015-02-04 14:54

I often disagree with Albuquerque Journal columnist Winthrop Quigley, but once in awhile he hits upon a very important issue and sheds some real light on it. His recent article on problems with America’s “anti-poverty” programs. The problem can be illustrated in the chart which accompanied Quigley’s column:

Basically, as an individual (in this case a single woman with a child) works harder, improves her skills, and earns more money, the various government programs conspire to limit her improvement in living standards. So, she works harder, invests in herself and her education and winds up back where she was before (or arguably worse off because she is working harder).

Libertarians have argued for a variety of reforms including simply giving the cash equivalent of these programs to the poor. Others have argued that anti-poverty programs should be block-granted to the states where the “50-state laboratories of democracy” can come up with better ideas than a one-size-fits-all policy dictated out of Washington. Still others argue that private charity is the best option.

No matter what changes are made to current welfare programs, it is hard to say that those who are out to dramatically reform the current welfare system “hate the poor.” Rather, it is the current system that keeps the poor trapped in a discouraging cycle.

Do unions have to represent ALL workers in a given workplace?

Tue, 2015-02-03 17:04

During recent testimony before the House Business and Employment Committee dozens of union representatives asserted that unions are required to represent all workers in a given workplace. That statement was asserted again by Dr. Gordon Lafer, a political economist and a professor at the University of Oregon, in a recent interview with New Mexico Political Report (a project of ProgressNow). I also sat down with the New Mexico Political Report.

Unfortunately, the reality is that unions are not required to represent those who do not want to pay dues (as could be done in a “right to work” state). As James Sherk of the Heritage Foundation writes:

The law requires unions to represent nonmembers only if they negotiate as “exclusive bargaining representatives.”[13] That status lets them negotiate on behalf of all workers, union and nonunion alike. If they do so, the law requires unions to bargain fairly. They cannot selectively negotiate the minimum wage for nonmembers. But unions do not have to claim exclusive representative status; they could negotiate contracts covering only dues-paying members.

This was decided by the US Supreme Court in Consolidated Edison Co. v. National Labor Relations Bd. in 1938.

Separate laws relating to certain groups of government workers in New Mexico may apply (and could be addressed by the Legislature), but there’s no federal law forcing unions to represent those that don’t want to pay for their services.

New RGF report: Obama Administration Clean Air Regulations to Raise Electricity Costs by 18 percent, cost 5,000+ New Mexico Jobs

Mon, 2015-02-02 12:48

(Albuquerque, NM) – The Rio Grande Foundation, using data produced by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University (BHI) has analyzed the Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Clean Air Regulations” and found that if consumers are concerned with the electricity rate hikes being proposed by Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), they will face an even greater impact under the new federal regulations.

The new report is available here. Among the report’s findings:

• Before factoring in PNM’s proposed 12 percent rate hike, New Mexico’s electricity prices are relatively high compared to other states. In part this is due to aggressive renewable portfolio standards;

• The EPA has introduced three new emission rules that will either force coal-fired generation plants to close or adopt expensive and unproven technologies such as carbon capture and storage;

• These rules will cost the New Mexico economy $185 million between implementation and 2030, according to data provided by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University;

• The rules’ effects on reducing the supply of inexpensive electricity production will increase electricity prices by 18%, cost 5,170 jobs, and reduce real disposable income by $578 million, according to the report.

According to Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing, all of this economic harm amounts to “all pain and no gain” since EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, in September 2013 testimony before a House committee, conceded that the agency’s climate-change regulatory regime would not affect the climate because the preponderance of current and future greenhouse-gas emissions originate in Asia.

“Of course,” argued Gessing, “The pain of dramatically-increased electricity costs will further hinder New Mexico’s already anemic economy while having real-world impacts on the thousands of hard-working taxpayers who are destined to lose their jobs under this misguided proposal.”

With PNM already looking for a 12 percent rate hike and many of New Mexico’s utilities looking to increase their “renewable” portfolios from 15 to 20 percent by 2020 to comply with New Mexico’s “renewable portfolio standard,” the price of electricity in the Land of Enchantment has already risen dramatically in recent years (as seen in the chart below) and is likely to rise dramatically in the years ahead.

Check out this new video outlining the serious issues facing the Obama Administration’s plan:

Armas clearly doesn’t “get” RGF, free markets

Fri, 2015-01-30 18:30

The following was penned by Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing and several RGF board members in response to an article by Jose Armas attacking RGF and its work.

Jose Armas recently penned an article attacking the Rio Grande Foundation, an organization with which we are involved. Armas’ critique trots out the usual misinformation about our funding sources and questions the non-partisan nature of our work.

Donations to RGF, like those made to all 501c3 organizations, are private. The right to privacy was affirmed in the 1958 US Supreme Court decision NAACP v. Alabama. While RGF closely follows IRS regulations on such matters, we are glad to report that 2/3rds of our 2014 funding (totaling $275,000) was from businesses and individuals based right here in New Mexico.

Of course, all of this does not address Armas’ specific concerns about the RGF’s policy recommendations. We are unsure how our work can be blamed for New Mexico’s lousy economic track record considering that New Mexico has been poor for decades and only now are we seeing serious discussion of RGF policy ideas like “right to work” and economic deregulation.

Contrary to Armas’ assertion, RGF research supports free market policies, not “corporate welfare.” In fact, RGF continues to oppose the very taxpayer-funded “corporate welfare” Armas decries.

In conclusion, RGF is indeed a non-partisan, free market, research and advocacy organization. This may not please those, like Mr. Armas who seem to believe that the rich and corporations are inherently evil while redistributionist government policies are inherently good. But that’s fine with us.

Signed by:
Paul J. Gessing, President and: Victor Bruno, Kathryn Minter, Tom Mullins, and Doug Turner, Members of the Rio Grande Foundation Board

ProgressNow’s odd email obsession

Thu, 2015-01-29 18:05

The far-left group “ProgressNow” seems to think they have some kind of “smoking gun” in that the Rio Grande Foundation and/or proponents of a “right to work” law in New Mexico are doing something unsavory. They continue to use stolen emails from a man who remains in prison for his crimes in an attempt to make the Rio Grande Foundation look bad (even ProgressNow can’t come up with anything illegal or unethical done by RGF). In other words, advocates of making New Mexico more economically-competitive through a “right to work” law are winning on the merits (witness bi-partisan support in the first Committee) so they are getting desperate.

The “case” such as it is can be summarized in one of the emails (stolen from a third party) below in which I ask Mickey Barnett, a prominent attorney and conservative political activist familiar with “right to work” in New Mexico for advice on whether or not to have a study done on the issue. The study was to be based on methodology used in a similar report from a free market think tank in Minnesota:

Barnett’s response which includes cc’s to several other conservatives argues for funding and for using the “right to work” issue in future political campaigns (Right to Work is supported by 65% of Democrats nationwide).

RGF didn’t find any one person or organization to fund the study, so we used funds from our 2012 operating budget. Barnett’s email didn’t generate so much as a response from any other party on the email indicating that there was no outpouring of money from conservative political insiders to fund the project.

Lastly, it is pretty rich indeed for an organization funded in part by George Soros and relying entirely on stolen emails for evidence, to have their panties in a bunch over some offhand remarks by someone who has no formal role with Rio Grande Foundation.

Gessing provides expert testimony as “right to work” bill passes first House Committee in bi-partisan vote

Thu, 2015-01-29 17:25

Today in the House Business and Employment Committee, HB 75 which would make New Mexico the 25th state in the nation to adopt “right to work” legislation, passed with bi-partisan support. Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing provided expert testimony which can be seen below. Next up is House Judiciary Committee:

Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the issue of whether to make New Mexico a “right to work” state. I believe that this is the most important single issue being addressed during the 2015 legislative session and I am pleased to be here.

Before I get started telling you what “right to work” is, I’d like to share with you what it is not.

“Right to Work” is not anti-union. Such laws simply restore individual choice over whether to join or not join a labor union. Moreover, federal law does not obligate unions to represent non-members. The National Labor Relations Act allows unions to sign “members’ only” contracts that apply only to dues-paying members. In 1938, the Supreme Court expressly upheld union’s ability to negotiate only on behalf of members. As William Gould, chairman of the NLRB under President Clinton, wrote, “the law now permits members-only bargaining for employees” — unions can exclude non-members from their contracts.

The second thing that “right to work” is not is that it is not an economic panacea. Supporters of the law hope that by adopting such a law New Mexico will be more economically-competitive. There is ample data to show that businesses, especially those providing high-paying jobs for skilled workers, tend to locate new facilities in “right to work” states far more often than they do in non-RTW states.

How do we know this? There are reams of data showing that RTW states create more jobs, are seeing faster population growth, and are experiencing faster personal income growth than their non-RTW brethren. And, while median incomes are higher in non-right to work states, once the cost of living is factored in, median incomes in RTW states are about $5,000 higher than in non-RTW states.

I’m happy to go into that data with the Committee in detail, but let’s look at real-world businesses and the site selection professionals who help businesses locate for a living.

The first and most famous case involves the airplane manufacturer Boeing which is primarily located in Washington State, a non-right to work state. In 2009, Boeing broke ground on a facility near Charleston, in South Carolina, which is a RTW state. The facility is expected to generate 3,800 jobs and invest $750 million over the next seven years.

Boeing’s move generated a great deal of controversy, but it was clearly a decision made in part to avoid future facility shutdowns. It is worth noting that Boeing’s employees are highly-skilled and well-paid. Boeing was not moving in search of lower wages, but to avoid having its technology and resource-intensive assembly lines beholden to frequent strikes.

Notably, Airbus, the European conglomerate and main competitor to Boeing, has 9 US facilities. As seen in Figure 1, only its Washington, DC-based government affairs division is located in a non-RTW state. Airbus could have chosen anywhere in the US to build its facilities having entered the market in 1990. It chose RTW.

They are not alone. Another foreign aircraft manufacturer, Embraer which makes regional and corporate jets, also could have built anywhere in the US. They chose RTW Florida as the location for not one, but two manufacturing facilities employing a total of 1,000 workers.

Of course, aviation is not the only manufacturing industry that favors RTW states. Even if Michigan’s shift to RTW is not included in the data, as Figure 2 illustrates, automobile manufacturing is increasingly moving to states that have RTW laws on the books.

It is no accident that manufacturers, especially those building new facilities, are choosing to locate in RTW states. After all, the people they trust to help locate their businesses also believe in the importance of RTW.

I just discussed the auto industry’s shift to RTW states. New Mexico was recently in the running for Tesla’s “gigafactory” which wound up choosing RTW Nevada for its facility. John Boyd, the principal at his namesake site selection firm said of New Mexico’s chances to lure Tesla “manufacturing companies look for reasons to scratch off states when considering where to build major facilities — and no right to work law is at the top of the list.”

Boyd also said, “I can’t underscore how critical right to work status is.” In conclusion, Boyd again reiterated the dire need for a right to work law in New Mexico saying, “New Mexico has enormous potential to become a manufacturing hub, especially if it were to adopt right to work legislation.”

Boyd is not alone. When Michigan went “right to work” in 2013, Site Selection Magazine interviewed several site selection experts on the issue. The following comments, all from professional site selectors relating to a real-world law passing indicate strong support for “right to work” laws:

Said Jason Hickey, principal of Hickey & Associates in Washington, D.C., “We believe there will be an enormous impact, especially for medium-tier companies who are poised to grow.”

Tracey Hyatt Bosman of BLS & Company in Chicago calls Michigan’s adoption of RTW “a dramatic demonstration of the state’s commitment to the transformation of their business environment.”

Bosman echoes other site consultants when she adds, “Some companies simply insist on locating in a right-to-work state. Michigan’s new legislation removes a roadblock and will bring the state’s extremely skilled work force into consideration for more projects.”

It was hard to find anyone in the site selection profession who saw a downside. Michigan’s swift reversal of decades of labor law.

Said Brent Pollina of Pollina Corporate Real Estate in Chicago, “Where it will have an effect is when there are companies who are looking for locations. Michigan will no longer be eliminated because they are not a right-to-work state. As a result, there should be a significant increase in the number of projects that Michigan receives because they are no longer being eliminated at the early stages of searches. The change also sends a strong signal to business and industry.”

As with any issue, if you look hard enough you can find those who will say RTW is “ineffective” or “not a factor” in businesses’ location decisions. However, I have never heard an economic development expert say RTW was a negative.

In conclusion, RTW costs taxpayers nothing. And, at a time when Washington is no longer a reliable base for our economy and with dramatically-reduced oil prices impacting our states’ most significant economic bright spot, there is no better or more important time for New Mexico to adopt a Right to Work law.

It is not a panacea, but a serious starting point for developing New Mexico’s under-developed private sector.

Thank you for your time and attention.

Interested in charter schools: check out the annual Albuquerque-area school choice fair

Wed, 2015-01-28 17:37

The New Mexico Coalition for Charter Schools (NMCCS) and the City of Albuquerque are Sponsoring The Sixth Annual School Choice Fair
Albuquerque Convention Center Thursday, February 5, 2015 5:00 – 8:00 P.M. The event is being held on the East Side Upper Level

At the event you can meet with leaders of many charters and private schools, find out about schools that can meet your specific needs, learn about programs you might not have known existed throughout the Albuquerque area, and receive information about how to apply.

If you have questions:

Call NMCCS at (505) 842 – 8203

Email Gilda Goldner:


See you there!

You’re invited to a reception with Grover Norquist Reception in Albuquerque

Wed, 2015-01-28 09:57
Join the RGF for a Reception with
Anti-Tax Activist Grover Norquist!

The Rio Grande Foundation is hosting a reception with Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform from 6:30pm to 8:00pm on Thursday, February 5th at the Marriott Pyramid.

Entrance to the reception is $15 per-person which includes light appetizers and a cash bar.

Click here for registration form!

Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a taxpayer advocacy group he founded in 1985 at President Reagan's request. ATR works to limit the size and cost of government and opposes higher taxes at the federal, state, and local levels and supports tax reform that moves towards taxing consumed income one time at one rate.

ATR organizes the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which asks all candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to the American people to oppose all tax increases. In the 113th Congress, 219 House members and 41 Senators have taken the pledge. On the state level, 14 governors and 1,035 state legislators have taken the pledge.

Norquist chairs the Washington, DC-based "Wednesday Meeting," a weekly gathering of more than 150 elected officials, political activists, and movement leaders. The meeting started in 1993 and takes place in ATR's conference room. There are now 60 similar "center-right" meetings in 48 states (including New Mexico).

Arianna Huffington calls Norquist "The dark wizard of the Right's anti-tax cult."

According to John Stossel, "No one in modern times has fought harder to shrink the state than the founder of the group Americans for Tax Reform."

In the words of Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist is "the person who I regard as the most innovative, creative, courageous and entrepreneurial leader of the anti-tax efforts and of conservative grassroots activism in America … he has truly made a difference and truly changed American history."

P.J. O'Rourke says "Grover Norquist is Tom Paine crossed with Lee Atwater plus just a soupçon of Madame Defarge."

Senator Mitch McConnell says, "It's because of soldiers like Grover that the conservative movement is so vibrant today and that the liberals who thought they had taken over two years ago are on the run."

Politico describes Grover as "the high priest of anti-tax orthodoxy who's convinced nearly every elected Republican to sign a pledge not to raise taxes."

The Hill named Grover one of the Top Grassroots Lobbyists of 2014 saying, "They say nothing is certain but death and taxes. In Washington, the third certainty is Norquist trying to kill the second."

Mr. Norquist holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, both from Harvard University. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Samah, and his daughters, Grace and Giselle.

Click here for registration form!

Proposed Bernalillo County tax hike is anti-poor, anti-progressive

Mon, 2015-01-26 12:31

It is often (wrongly) assumed that when policies are proposed by Democrats, they are inherently for the benefit of the poor with the reverse applying to Republicans who supposedly, reflexively either oppose the poor or support the rich. Well, it just ain’t so.

Take the recently-proposed 1/4 percent ($40 million) gross receipts tax increase which is being supported by the three Democrats forming the majority on Bernalillo County’s Commission. A final vote is to be held on the tax hike in a matter of just a few weeks, so be sure to contact your Commissioners now.

While liberals proclaim their support for the poor, liberal columnist E.J. Dionne might not be thrilled with the County’s liberal Commissioners’ desire to raise taxes. As Dionne noted in his recent column (linked above):

Most state and local governments rely on regressive taxes — particularly sales and excise levies. Poor and middle-class people pay more simply because they have to spend the bulk of their incomes just to cover their costs.

As if that were not enough, the liberal group NM Voices for Children recently noted that “Consumption taxes,” like NM’s gross receipts tax, “exacerbate poverty.” So, there you have it, by unnecessarily increasing the gross receipts tax in Bernalillo County, the liberal members of the Commission are “exacerbating poverty.” Not only that, but they are making New Mexico’s largest city and most-populous county less attractive to a wide array of businesses and economic activities at a pivotal time when no one knows what will drive New Mexico’s economy…federal spending isn’t getting the job done and with oil prices in the tank, the one economic bright spot around here has been snuffed out.

I guess the good news for economically-struggling New Mexicans is that they can always move to Texas.

Not for lack of trying, but NM loses out on “Film Subsidy” Oscars

Thu, 2015-01-22 11:57

New Mexico has extremely-generous film subsidies of 25% or 30% on the dollar depending on whether the production is a tv show or a movie. According to the Legislature’s own study, these subsidies are a money-loser, costing the state’s taxpayers $137 million between 2010 and 2014.

But it looks like New Mexico was shut out of the Oscar’s and thus, did not have any films qualify for the “Film Subsidy” Oscars as outlined in the following chart from Jared Meyer at the Washington Examiner:

As seen in the chart, the film American Sniper “won” with total taxpayer subsidies of $60 million. Alas, despite budgetary problems in Santa Fe with revenue from profitable businesses like oil and gas production falling, legislators face some tough decisions. Reducing New Mexico’s generous film subsidies is not likely to be among those “difficult” decisions.

HT: Rob Nikolewski