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Why is New Mexico not realizing its potential?
Updated: 1 hour 35 min ago

Intel, Public Health, and ‘Pollution’

Thu, 2015-09-03 14:08

Last night’s meeting about public health and Intel’s plant in Rio Rancho, held at the Old San Ysidro Church in Corrales, was … interesting.

Two officials with the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry, a division of the Public Health Service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, presented their findings on air quality and the chip-fabrication factory.

Several residents in the area have convinced themselves that their maladies are due to “pollution” emanating from the plant. But after years of analysis — a process that the ATSDR admitted took “too long” — the agency released its “final public health consultation” last month.

It was somewhat disappointing that inadequate data rendered the ATSDR unable to “draw health conclusions” about volatile organic compounds and acid aerosols. Similarly, the agency could not verify an “increased rate” of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease), since the “prevalence rate of ALS has not been well established and sufficient reporting data are not currently available.” More research is needed.

But scientists did determine that “measured levels of carbon dioxide … were below levels of health concern,” and the community is not “exposed to elevated levels of crystalline silica.” Furthermore, an “epidemiologic investigation” by the New Mexico Health Department “did not observe a cluster of idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.”

A peer reviewer summarized the report’s bottom line: “[T]here are very little if any health effects posed by environmental emissions from the Intel facility.”

Rest assured, that won’t be good enough for the ecochondriacs who are convinced that Intel is sickening them, and that state officials — and now, possibly the feds — are in on the conspiracy. Activists’ militancy, well-covered by media outlets, doesn’t advertise greater Albuquerque as an attractive place for manufacturers to make investments.

Who Supports Bus Rapid Transit in ABQ? ‘You’ Do!

Wed, 2015-09-02 12:39

Tomorrow evening, Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing will debate developer Paul Silverman about the merits of bus rapid transit in Albuquerque.

The Foundation’s position on the ill-advised project was outlined in an issue brief released in July. Nonetheless, in defiance of sound public policy and broad opposition by property owners along the route, the city has formally requested federal funding for Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART).

In reviewing the city’s voluminous application, the “Letters of Support” section caught our eye. Dozens of high-ranking officials on the payrolls of municipal, county, and state bureaucracies endorsed the project. Here’s the list:

* Harold Caba, New Mexico Department of Health

* Tom Church, New Mexico Department of Transportation

* Ken Hughes, New Mexico Department of Energy

* Dewey V. Cave, Mid-Region Council of Governments

* Terry Doyle, Rio Metro Regional Transit District

* Olivia Padilla-Jackson, City of Albuquerque

* Beatriz Rivera, Department of Cultural Services, City of Albuquerque

* Dean Smith, Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library

* Gary Oppedahl, Economic Development Department, City of Albuquerque

* Robert G. Frank, University of New Mexico

* Christopher Hains, University of New Mexico

* Alberto V. Solis, University of New Mexico

* A.J. Carian, University of New Mexico

* Kurt Edward Capalbo, University of New Mexico

* Katharine Winograd, Central New Mexico Community College

* Luis Valentino, Albuquerque Public Schools (ouch)

* Teresa Archuleta, Tierra Adentro Charter School

* Laura Kesselman, Albuquerque Convention & Visitors Bureau

* Jose Garcia, Albuquerque Convention Center

All five members of New Mexico’s congressional delegation added their support. Two of Bernalillo County’s commissioners followed suit, with Debbie O’Malley, Wayne Johnson and Lonnie Talbert opting out. Not surprisingly, six of nine city councilors back ART.

In addition, a raft of subsidized nonprofits are on board.

Click here for the full list.

The bottom line? If you pay taxes in New Mexico, you’re a “supporter” of the state’s next infrastructure boondoggle.

A Hot Month for Right-to-Work Job Creation

Tue, 2015-09-01 14:48

The Rio Grande Foundation is tracking announcements of expansions, relocations, and greenfield investments published on Area Development‘s website. Founded in 1965, the publication “is considered the leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection and relocation. … Area Development is published quarterly and has 60,000 mailed copies.” In an explanation to the Foundation, its editor wrote that items for Area Development’s announcements listing are “culled from RSS feeds and press releases that are emailed to us from various sources, including economic development organizations, PR agencies, businesses, etc. We usually highlight ones that represent large numbers of new jobs and/or investment in industrial projects.”

Last month, of 23,750 projected jobs, 19,772 — 83.3 percent — were slated for right-to-work (RTW) states:

Sixteen domestic companies based in non-RTW states announced investments in RTW states. Just four announcements went the other way.

Foreign direct investment was also highly skewed. Twenty-seven projects are headed to RTW states, but only three are to to occur in non-RTW states.

Marquee RTW wins included the decision by Illinois-Based Hoist Liftruck Mfg., Inc. to add 500 workers to its facility across the border in Indiana, Chinese aerospace firm HAECO’s expansion of its North Carolina workforce by 127 jobs, and Johnson & Johnson’s choice of Florida for a shared-services headquarters to “handle work for its operating companies in the areas of finance, human resources, information technology and procurement.” For the eco-left, a bitterly ironic investment was announced by SolarCity. The California-based company picked Utah for a huge facility to house “accounting, finance, human resources, legal, marketing and sales support.”

Sadly, as is usually the case, no investments were announced for New Mexico.

Methodological specifics:

* All job estimates — “up to,” “as many as,” “about” — were taken at face value, for RTW and non-RTW states alike.

* If an announcement did not make an employment projection, efforts were made to obtain an estimate from newspaper articles and/or press releases by elected officials and economic-development bureaucracies.

* If no job figure could be found anywhere, the project was not counted, whether it was a RTW or non-RTW state.

* Intrastate relocations were not counted, interstate relocations were.

The “Money Pit” New Mexico style

Tue, 2015-09-01 08:42

Several years ago, Eclipse Aviation received a taxpayer-financed infusion of $19 million via the State Investment Council. A few years ago, that money was gone, Eclipse Aviation was bankrupt with taxpayers holding the bag and nothing but a few buildings left.

Recently, the Bernalillo County Commission voted unanimously to approve $30 million in “Industrial Revenue Bonds” to allow New Mexico Food Distributors Inc. to expand in Albuquerque without paying property tax for 20 years. The chosen facility (soon to make tortillas and other New Mexican food), none other than the old Eclipse factory.

One hopes that the second time around with this factory goes better than the first. The good news is that New Mexican food has a longer track record of sales success than did Eclipse. The $30 million is also a tax break, not an outright giveaway. But, asking local taxpayers to pony up another $30 million to abate taxes on a property for which state taxpayers already spent $19 million is a bitter pill to swallow indeed.

Perhaps it is a sign that New Mexico needs serious tax reform so as to be more competitive without all the special tax breaks and giveaways?

HT: Rob Nikolewski

How to Access to a High-Performing High School

Mon, 2015-08-31 14:40

A Foundation supporter recently sent along an analysis by the District of Columbia’s Office of Revenue Analysis. It concluded that in “most parts of the District, people who wish to buy a home face an expensive housing market. The costs become even higher if you want to buy within the boundaries of a high performing public school so your children have the right to attend that school.”

We ran a similar number-crunch on 13 government high schools in Albuquerque. Here’s what we found:

The results were no shock — in the priciest portions of the school district, achievement is highest. In 2011, the composite ACT score for La Cueva High School, where the median assessed value of owner-occupied housing is nearly $200,000, was 24. In depressing contrast, Atrisco Heritage High School, where homes’ median valuation is around $70,000, posted a score of just 13.5.

The scatterplot reveals why school choice is essential for parents trying to obtain the best learning opportunities for their children. Education shouldn’t be about location, it should be about which school is the best fit for students.

Thanks to the GIS Section of Bernalillo County’s Public Works Division for its help with housing data.

‘Political pay’ at APS is a bad deal

Mon, 2015-08-31 08:53

Most of the media’s attention has been focused on the ongoing scandal at the top of Albuquerque Public Schools. Unfortunately, an issue with much larger long-term ramifications was voted on by the APS board – minus Peggy Muller-Aragon, who opposed the move.

The issue is of course paying district employees “political pay” for serving in the Legislature. Apparently, a majority of the board recognized an opportunity to increase its influence in Santa Fe at taxpayer expense.

This is a classic case of a taxpayer-funded entity working to further its own political interests at the expense of those who pay the bills. After all, APS already has lobbyists patrolling the halls in Santa Fe, why not add a few more APS-paid legislators into the mix when it comes time to vote on education budgets?

Currently, four legislators are employed by the school district. Those include Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque; Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque; and Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque, and Rep. Tim Lewis, R-Rio Rancho. Unlike the others, Lewis has not accepted his pay as a teacher in recent years when serving in Santa Fe and presumably will continue to do the same despite the district’s move.

New Mexico has the last citizen legislature. Legislators receive per diem pay on the days the Legislature meets. The state Constitution clearly states that legislators “receive only per diem and mileage and no other compensation, perquisite or allowance.” One would think this language makes clear that a legislator cannot receive any other state monies for their service.

A serious issue with the new APS policy is that it gives APS employees, at least those who accept “political pay,” an unfair advantage over their unpaid colleagues. Board member Barbara Petersen put a positive spin on things, saying that offering the pay could draw more APS employees to become lawmakers when they otherwise might not have been able to afford it.

Of course, and it is in APS’s interest to have sympathetic ears on the payroll in Santa Fe.

One question that needs to be asked now is whether these legislators will be allowed to receive “per diem” pay as legislators (again at taxpayer expense). Former APS Board member Kathy Korte once called this “triple-dipping.”

It would seem that if taxpayers are paying legislators through their employer, they shouldn’t be forced to pay them again for their service through the per diem system.

Concern over public employees serving in the Legislature is nothing new. The New Mexico Supreme Court just decided that the city of Albuquerque was justified in restricting city employees from serving as legislators.

During the 2015 legislative session, Rep. Bill Rehm, R-Albuquerque, sponsored legislation, HB 439, that would have prohibited APS and other “subdivisions of the state” from compensating their workers for time served in the Legislature. Unfortunately, the bill did not make it out of the House.

New Mexico has long had bigger-than-average-government (including state and local governments). According to the website Key Policy Data, New Mexico has the second-largest ratio of state and local workers relative to private sector workers in the nation. It is widely recognized across partisan lines that New Mexico needs a larger, more vibrant private sector.

We can appreciate the willingness of all who serve in New Mexico’s unpaid, volunteer Legislature to give their time to make our state a better place to live, but government agencies shouldn’t be “stacking the deck” by giving their employees a big financial advantage when it comes to serving in the Legislature.

Private sector and self-employed legislators (and their employers) face real hardships when serving in Santa Fe. But their experience and the sacrifices they make provide a perspective that is simply missing from many who make their living in government.

Rather than encouraging more government workers to serve in the Legislature at added taxpayer expense, New Mexico needs an even playing field with public workers facing the same financial sacrifices as we expect from those without the benefit of a taxpayer-funded job.

Paul Gessing is the President of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is 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


Center for Truth in Accounting outlines financial state of New Mexico

Fri, 2015-08-28 08:38

The folks at the Center for Truth in Accounting keep an eagle eye on state government finances. They have released a new report on “The Financial State of New Mexico.”

A few key findings from the detailed report on New Mexico: researchers found that New Mexico did not report 99 percent — or $7.5 billion worth — of its retirement debt on the state’s balance sheet.

New Mexico only reported $58.57 million in retirement and health care benefits yet owes approximately $7.5 billion. Because the state government uses outdated accounting methods, a vast majority of liabilities are excluded from its financial reporting.

When TIA researchers included the $7.5 billion of hidden debt, they discovered that New Mexico:

● owes $12.5 billion in bills;

● has $7 billion available to pay bills; and

● needs $5.5 billion to pay bills.

If New Mexico’s $5.5 billion of debt were divided among its taxpayers, each taxpayer’s personal share would be $9,700.

In 2014, New Mexico received the organization’s “Tortoise Award” for being so slow in producing its financials.

As seen below, New Mexico taxpayers face significant burdens. According to the organization, each taxpayer’s financial burden (surplus)’ is the money needed (available) to pay bills divided by the number of state taxpayers.” This is the approximate amount required of each taxpayer in order to pay the State’s obligations today.


Transit-only lanes hurt auto mobility: Seattle’s experience

Thu, 2015-08-27 15:25

Albuquerque Mayor Berry continues to talk in platitudes and generalities about how his proposed $100 million bus system could be a “game changer” and “transformative” to Albuquerque. What he doesn’t care to discuss is how the proposed system would impact overall mobility on Central.

Thankfully, Albuquerque is not the first city to have embraced dedicated lanes for bus rapid transit. Seattle has done so as well. And, according to a new report from the Washington Policy Center (a free market think tank based in Washington), predictions of improved traffic in areas served by the new transit system have not only proven wrong, but the exact opposite has happened. Auto traffic in the area has slowed dramatically.

The first table below are the predictions offered by public officials in advance of the project being completed.

However, a recent official analysis shows that didn’t happen. According to the SDOT report, not only did officials not provide the driving public with quicker trips, but for many people, travel times actually got worse after the policy took away part of the public street.  Even bus riders heading northbound during the afternoon commute have suffered longer commute times since officials reserved the public lanes for transit.

A comparison between reality and political promises is available below:

Yes, transit travel times generally dropped, but travel by car (car trips are much more common despite the addition of transit) got far more difficult and time consuming.

There is nothing wrong with building transit systems in order to serve high-density job centers. The idea of spending $100 million or more to purposefully make motor traffic worse in a chosen area in order to encourage “transit oriented development” is just silly.

Ultimately, if we are going to spend at least $20 million and an additional $2 million annually, shouldn’t we use those dollars for real issues like policing and making our community a safer, more attractive place to live and work?

We’re number one….in federal dependency

Wed, 2015-08-26 15:00

We all know that New Mexico relies heavily on federal spending and according to a report from WalletHub which I happened to run across, New Mexico is THE MOST RELIANT state in the nation when it comes to federal money beating out even Mississippi which came in 49th (or 2nd depending on perspective).

Source: WalletHub

Source: WalletHub

There’s no doubt that New Mexico needs to build its private sector economy. Gov. Martinez’s reforms were thwarted by the hostile Democrat-controlled Senate during the 2015 session. Will the status quo persist in the 30 day 2016 session?

About Those ‘Budget Cuts’ …

Tue, 2015-08-25 16:42

The next time you hear a “progressive” decry “cuts” to New Mexico’s budget, respond with this statistic: 22.3 percent. That’s how much the state’s inflation-adjusted spending grew between 2004 and 2014.

It received scant media coverage, but earlier this month, the state’s latest Comprehensive Annual Financial Report was released. In fiscal 2014, all expenditures — from unemployment insurance to the state fair, the New Mexico Finance Authority to government schools, prisons to legislative costs — totaled $17.1 billion.

In 2010, spending peaked at $18.4 billion. (Aided, of course, by the Obama administration’s “stimulus.”) Expenditures have indeed dropped a bit since then, but remember that New Mexico is losing population. And viewed from a decade-long perspective, it’s clear that New Mexico does not suffer from slumping state expenditures.

The Animas Spill and the problem with the EPA

Tue, 2015-08-25 15:05

EPA DISASTER: An estimated three million gallons of pollutants spilled into the Animas River after an EPA reclamation project was botched.

By Paul Gessing | Watchdog Opinion

So much has been said and written about the EPA-induced debacle on the Animas River. To be clear, living in New Mexico as I do, I have spent a great deal of time in and around Silverton, Colorado and Durango as well as New Mexico’s Four Corners.

The areas are beautiful and attract tourists from all over the world for outdoor activities like skiing, fly fishing, mountain biking, and the Durango-Silverton narrow gauge train.

There is also a rich mining history in the area. You can scratch most any ski area in the region like Durango or Telluride and find that it was originally settled as a mining town.

Yes, there are abandoned mines throughout the area. The Gold King Mine last operated back in 1922 [2], long preceding EPA regulations as well as modern scientific understanding of the potential environmental impacts of allowing mine waste to flow freely into rivers and other bodies of water.

The EPA was only created in December of 1970 with Richard Nixon’s signing of an executive order. As usual, this was an example of a politician seeing a parade going by and stepping out in front so as to appear to be leading it.

The environmental movement had been growing rapidly in the preceding years with the publication of Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring in 1962 and the devastating Santa Barbara oil spill in 1969. The strength of the movement had culminated earlier in 1970 with celebration of the first Earth Day on April 22nd.

American attitudes about the environment and its stewardship were changing fast. The environmental movement is now one of the most powerful interest groups in Washington. Not surprisingly, the EPA has grown far beyond its original design with dire economic impacts. The agency’s annual budget is “just” $11 billion, but according to the Competitive Enterprise Institute’s study of federal regulations, EPA regulations alone cost the US economy a staggering $353 billion annually [3].

The way the EPA does business is also problematic and could fill many books. Just recently, The New York Times revealed [5] the agency colluded with environmentalist groups in a campaign to manufacture public comments in favor of its new “Waters of the US Rule.”

That, of course preceded the debacle on the Animas River, a 3 million gallon spill of arsenic and heavy metals which was caused by EPA contractors. From the start, this was a high-risk strategy the failure of which was predicted by a local geologist who went on to argue in a letter to the Silverton Standard, that ran a week before the disaster, that it was a “grand experiment” that would fail while creating a “Superfund blitzkrieg.”

Clearly, the EPA is doing a less than stellar job of balancing economic needs with those of the environment. Perhaps it is time to allow a new type of federalism to flourish?

Rather than a one-size-fits all regulatory power out of Washington, perhaps states could opt out of some or all EPA regulations and regulate environmental issues themselves? I don’t foresee Congress, no matter the political makeup, voting to get rid of the EPA in its entirety, but Washington clearly doesn’t have all the answers to our environmental issues.

Currently, hydraulic fracking, to name just one important activity, is regulated at the state level. And, while environmentalists have repeatedly attacked the process, even the EPA has found no ill effects on groundwater from the widely-used process.

Untying the EPA knot will not be an easy or fast process. In just 45 years, the agency has spread its tentacles into every facet of the American economy and our lives. Perhaps the Animas spill, like the Santa Barbara spill of the 1960s, will alter the direction, but in more free market direction that also respects American federalism and state prerogatives.

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The Region’s Laggard in Job Creation

Mon, 2015-08-24 14:04

On Friday, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released data on July employment at the regional and state levels. And once again, New Mexico lagged behind its neighbors in job creation.

The BLS looked at employees on nonfarm payrolls in July 2014 and July 2015. At 0.5 percent, the Land of Enchantment trailed each of its bordering states:

Looking at the national picture, New Mexico was joined by just eight states — Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, West Virginia — in seeing either higher or unchanged unemployment rates. The absolute number of unemployed workers grew in all nine states.

With the national economy in precarious condition and losses mounting in New Mexico’s oil-production employment, it’s clear that more than ever before, the state needs an effective economic-development strategy.

Randal O’Toole Luncheon: Albuquerque’s Transportation Future

Mon, 2015-08-24 09:29
Rio Grande Foundation Speaker Series Event:
Albuquerque's Transportation Future

Click here for registration form.

The Rail Runner, Bus Rapid Transit, and land-use planning; these are just a few of the issues currently being discussed by New Mexico's political leadership and economic development establishment.

What should advocates of the free market consider on these issues? Is bus rapid transit going to help or hurt mobility in and around Albuquerque? Should we really shut down the Rail Runner? What about TIDD's and the development known as Santolina?

  • Location:  Marriott Pyramid 5151 San Francisco Rd NE, Albuquerque, NM 87109
  • When:  Tuesday, September 15, 2015, 12:00 noon to 1:00pm
  • Cost:  Seating is limited and can be purchased at the discounted price of $30 until Tuesday, September 8, 2015; $40 after the 8th

Randal O'Toole is a Cato Institute Senior Fellow working on urban growth, public land, and transportation issues.

O'Toole's research on national forest management, culminating in his 1988 book, Reforming the Forest Service, has had a major influence on Forest Service policy and on-the-ground management. His analysis of urban land-use and transportation issues, brought together in his 2001 book, The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths, has influenced decisions in cities across the country. In his book The Best-Laid Plans, O'Toole calls for repealing federal, state, and local planning laws and proposes reforms that can help solve social and environmental problems without heavy-handed government regulation.

O'Toole's latest book is American Nightmare: How Government Undermines The Dream of Homeownership. O'Toole is the author of numerous Cato papers. He has also written for Regulation magazine as well as op-eds and articles for numerous other national journals and newspapers. O'Toole travels extensively and has spoken about free-market environmental issues in dozens of cities.

An Oregon native, O'Toole was educated in forestry at Oregon State University and in economics at the University of Oregon.

Click here for registration form.

In 2013, the Exodus Continued

Fri, 2015-08-21 12:11

The IRS has released interstate taxpayer-migration data for 2013. The news isn’t good for New Mexico.

Washington’s revenue bureaucracy tallies the movement of tax filers, as well as number of exemptions claimed on each return. As the Tax Foundation explains on its migration calculator, the “number of exemptions … corresponds with the number of people the return is for; for example, a return for a married couple with two children would have four exemptions. Therefore, this number is closely correlated with the movement of individual persons.”

In 2013, there were 55,316 exemptions “arriving” in New Mexico. The outflow number stood at 63,739.

Evidently, fabulous weather, friendly people, and fantastic scenery can’t compensate for lousy public policy.

Albuquerque Public Schools to pay employees who serve in Santa Fe: will they double (or triple)-dip?

Fri, 2015-08-21 08:58

The Albuquerque Public Schools board (minus Peggy Muller Aragon who opposed the move), recognizing that it has an opportunity to increase its influence in Santa Fe at taxpayer expense, has embarked upon the misguided policy of paying its employees “political leave” while they serve in Santa Fe.

It was apparently all-too-easy for the Board to make the decision. After all, APS already has lobbyists patrolling the halls in Santa Fe, why not throw a few APS-paid legislators into the mix when it comes time to vote on the budget? At least one APS employee, Rep. Tim Lewis, has not accepted his pay as a teacher in the past and presumably will continue to do the same. I doubt the other three APS employees — Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, D-Albuquerque; Rep. Patricio Ruiloba, D-Albuquerque; and Rep. Christine Trujillo, D-Albuquerque — serving in Santa Fe will take the same stance, but I’d love to be surprised.

The question that needs to be asked now is whether these legislators will be allowed to receive “per diem” pay as legislators (again at taxpayer expense). Kathy Korte who previously served on the APS board once called this “triple-dipping.”

Another serious issue with the new APS policy is that it gives APS employees, at least those who accept the “political pay” an unfair advantage over their unpaid colleagues. Board member Barbara Petersen put a positive spin on things saying that offering the pay could draw more APS employees to become lawmakers when they otherwise might not have been able to afford it.

Of course, having fewer legislators with private sector experience and more who are beholden to their government employer is the last thing New Mexico needs.

Albuquerque Isn’t Phoenix … or Cleveland

Wed, 2015-08-19 16:57

The Duke City’s transportation bureaucrats, Albuquerque Business First reported earlier today, “held presentations this week called ‘Transit Placemaking for the Central Avenue Corridor.'” Planners from Phoenix and Cleveland were on hand to tout the “benefits” of government-run buses and trains.

The events were attempts to promote Albuquerque Rapid Transit (ART), a bus rapid transit system designed to replace “Rapid Ride,” which runs three express routes along Central Avenue.

The Foundation recently weighed in on the weaknesses of the ART proposal — issues that surely went unaddressed at “Transit Placemaking for the Central Avenue Corridor.” Read the issue brief here.

Phoenix, it’s important to note, has been a boomtown for decades — long before the recent expansions of its transit systems. While both Arizona and New Mexico had about the same population a century ago, the states’ public policies diverged radically. One adopted a right-to-work law and kept taxes relatively low. The other focused on the federal government as a driver of jobs and development, enacted a cumbersome tax on gross receipts, and refused to ban compulsory unionism. The opposing approaches yielded very different results for the states’ two dominant metro regions.

As for Cleveland, it does have one thing in common with Albuquerque: vanishing locals. Between 2013 and 2014, Bloomberg found, the metro areas lost the same percentage of residents. Unlike Albuquerque, Cleveland, as a city, has experienced net population loss since the 1950s. Another key difference? Cleveland’s population density — an important determinant of transit viability — is 42 percent higher than Albuquerque’s.

Are Duke City developers clamoring for bus rapid transit? Douglas H. Peterson, principal of Peterson Properties LLC, recently wrote in Albuquerque Business First that “35 property owners representing 55 properties … have signed official letters of opposition [to ART] that I have delivered to the mayor and councilors, [and] dozens of other citizens have contacted me to express their agreement that ART would do much more harm than good for our city and be a tremendous waste of resources.”

Finally, there is no evidence to support the claim that transit attracts educated Millennials. Last year, a report by City Observatory found that 25-to-34-year-olds with at least a B.A. were flocking to places like Houston, Las Vegas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Jacksonville, and Denver — hardly havens for subways, light rail, and bus rapid transit.

Albuquerque needs a vibrant and growing private-sector economy. Feel-good “infrastructure” projects have proven to be spectacularly ineffective tools to achieve the goal. No self-congratulatory, dissenters-not-allowed sessions celebrating “smart growth” will change fundamental facts. The city’s policymakers must look elsewhere for effective economic-development strategies.

Employee Freedom — Good for the Economy, Too

Wed, 2015-08-19 11:01

As we continue to celebrate National Employee Freedom Week, it’s important to note the economic performance of states that empower workers, not union bosses.

On January 1, the Foundation began to track announcements of expansions, relocations, and greenfield investments published on Area Development‘s website. Founded in 1965, the publication “is considered the leading executive magazine covering corporate site selection and relocation. … Area Development is published quarterly and has 60,000 mailed copies.” In an explanation to the Foundation, its editor wrote that items for Area Development‘s announcements listing are “culled from RSS feeds and press releases that are emailed to us from various sources, including economic development organizations, PR agencies, businesses, etc. We usually highlight ones that represent large numbers of new jobs and/or investment in industrial projects.”

The Foundation will soon release the results of an analysis of six months of Area Development announcements, comparing right-to-work (RTW) states and compulsory-unionism states. For now, here’s a fascinating finding on what we’re calling the “border-crossing phenomenon”: the incidence of firms based in non-RTW states making investments in RTW states, and vice versa.

In each of the six months, RTW states grabbed the lion’s share of jobs to be created by border-crossing companies:

Employee freedom, real economic development. The correlation is strong.

Happy National Employee Freedom Week!

Tue, 2015-08-18 09:33

It’s National Employee Freedom Week. The event is a “campaign offering an unparalleled focus on the freedoms union employees have to opt out of union membership.” With participation by 97 groups in 42 states, this year more Americans than ever will learn about their rights regarding “organized labor.”

Polling data reveal that 27.5 percent of unionized New Mexicans do not know that they cannot be forced to join and/or pay full dues:

New Mexico is not yet a right-to-work state. But workers covered by “collective bargaining” here can opt to pay an “agency fee,” which supports the non-political portion of union expenditures. Religious/conscientious objectors have the right to avoid paying a single penny to a union.

Click here for New Mexico-specific information about employee freedom. And spread the word!

Albuquerque’s painfully-high minimum wage

Mon, 2015-08-17 08:57

In listings of highest city-level minimum wages, Albuquerque rarely makes the list of those having the rates. However, as we all know, living in Albuquerque isn’t as expensive as living in San Francisco. So, a website called SmartAsset did the cost of living calculations for major cities with their own minimum wages and found Albuquerque to have the 5th-highest in the nation.

You can see the top-10 cities by “real” minimum wages below:

Shockingly enough, despite (or perhaps because of) the cities high minimum wage, Albuquerque is not exactly booming as the liberal Brookings Institute has pointed out.

Interestingly, and further buttressing the case against government-mandated minimum wages, a new report out of Seattle relating to that City’s $11/hour minimum wage indicates that the usually fast-growing restaurant industry lost jobs concurrently with the increase in the minimum wage.

In a separate article, Wendy’s CEO Emil Brolick, when asked how the franchisees who own and operate Wendy’s locations could raise prices to offset the higher wage costs in places like New York. He replied that “our franchisees will likely look at the opportunity to reduce overall staff, look at the opportunity to certainly reduce hours and any other cost reduction opportunities, not just price. You know there are some people out there who naively say that these wages can simply be passed along in terms of price increases. I don’t think that the average franchisee believes that.”