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Why is New Mexico not realizing its potential?
Updated: 40 min 46 sec ago

A new group joins the Right to Work fray & the latest on the issue

Mon, 2014-12-22 17:43

A new organization calling itself “Jobs For All New Mexico” is going to be making the push in the 2015 legislative session for a Right to Work law.

Also, there was an interesting, personal story from Paul Dipaola of US Bank in the Albuquerque Biz First newspaper.

Lastly, in an indicator of the types of problems that major businesses can often face in non-Right to Work states, the CEO of Boeing recently discussed his company’s difficulties with unions and their new factory which is located in South Carolina, a Right to Work state.

This Week on the Rio Grande Foundation Bi-Weekly “New Mexico Freedom Hour” Radio Show on 770 KKOB AM Radio!

Fri, 2014-12-19 16:29

This Week on the Rio Grande Foundation
Bi-Weekly “New Mexico Freedom Hour”
Radio Show on 770 KKOB AM Radio! This Saturday From Noon to 1:00PM!

The “New Mexico Freedom Hour” is presented by the Rio Grande Foundation. It next airs on Saturday, December 20, 2014 from noon to 1:00pm on 770 KKOB AM.

Steve McKee
Dax Contreras

This week, Paul Gessing will be interviewing Steve McKee and Dax Contreras. McKee, an Albuquerque-based businessman, is president of McKee Wallwork & Company and author of Power Branding and When Growth Stalls. He’s also a frequent contributor to Businessweek. Contreras is the new Executive Director of the newly-formed “Jobs for All New Mexico.”

They’ll discuss the New Mexico economy and what we can do to improve it.

Listeners are encouraged not only to tune in and listen, but to call in with questions: 505-243-3333. The show is also available streamed online at

Thanks for your interest and support.


NM Republicans would be fools to raise the minimum wage, unless…

Fri, 2014-12-19 11:48

A splashy front-page article appeared in today’s’ Albuquerque Journal indicating that raising the minimum wage is going to be considered during the 2015 legislative session despite Republicans having taken over the House (and holding the Governor’s mansion).

Even if, defying basic economics, raising the minimum wage doesn’t result in job losses, raising the wage is NOT going to do anything positive for New Mexico’s economy. Republicans should be focused on policy reforms that WILL result in economic improvement. The reality, of course, is that raising the minimum wage results in lost jobs as the Congressional Budget Office pointed out earlier this year.

Polling shows that Americans support raising the minimum wage, but that support evaporates if it kills jobs:

All of this strongly points to Republicans NOT raising the minimum wage. But it could, as Rep. Varela noted, be a point of compromise. And that is where a hike in the minimum wage could be tolerable. It should be big though. Right to Work or elimination of Davis-Bacon prevailing wage laws. I can’t really think of another compromise that would make sense for Republicans to take the politically-foolhardy and economically problematic step of raising the minimum wage, but it could exist.

Thank enviros for PNM 12% rate hike — and more hikes to come

Thu, 2014-12-18 14:37

With the 2015 legislative session around the corner, things have been pretty busy at the Rio Grande Foundation, but we didn’t miss the announcement by PNM that the company would be asking for a shocking 12 percent rate hike for residential customers. Of course, this is just a down-payment on what the radical environmentalists and the Obama Administration would like to do to your utility bills.

PNM (now the only publicly-traded company in NM) won’t blame them outright because they already have to deal with these well-funded groups and their allies in Santa Fe. The reality is that the Obama Administration is out to bankrupt the coal industry with its costly new regulations. And New Mexico’s policymakers have previously saddled us with a costly renewable portfolio standard mandate which will get more expensive as it is fully-phased in by 2020.

Environmentalists (and New Mexico’s Senators) only express public support for wind and solar. Coal, oil, natural gas, and even nuclear (the fuels that actually work to provide reliable, affordable power) get nothing but scorn.

As motorists celebrate newly-inexpensive gasoline, we better take note that if we don’t stand up to the radical environmental groups, those savings will be more than wiped out by higher utility costs that will do nothing to reduce global warming.

The drop in gas prices is a good thing — even for New Mexicans

Wed, 2014-12-17 22:52

I know it might seem to be an obvious point to make that the recent, dramatic drop in oil prices is a good thing. Indeed, numerous media reports have pointed out that falling gas prices are like a tax cut.

But some are saying that gas prices are too low. Certainly, it is going to be a negative for New Mexico’s government revenues. It could also have a significant, negative impact on parts of New Mexico’s overall economy, especially those in the Permian Basin.

Ultimately, however, low oil and gas prices are a good thing. One reason being somewhat obvious, the other rather counter-intuitive.

1) Dropping oil and gas prices put money in individuals’ pockets while taking it from government. As a supporter of a free market economy who believes (based on ample research and experience) that individuals are better stewards of their money than government, the money that lower prices at the pump will put back in New Mexicans’ pockets will be put to far better uses than money sent to Santa Fe.

Times of plenty in government, regardless of political control, typically mean more spending. Reduced funding leads to prioritization and tough decisions (even, gasp! CUTS)….which leads me to point two.

2) New Mexico’s economy is overly-reliant on the federal government and the oil/gas industries. We have desperately needed to strengthen the private sector in our state so as to not rely on DC or volatile oil and gas prices. Particularly in light of the recent electoral results, New Mexico is ripe for significant reforms that should lead to a more competitive private sector. Those who don’t take the need for reform seriously enough already will face the additional, persuasive factor that the 31% of our State’s budget provided by oil and gas is going to be shrinking significantly in coming years.

My Family’s ObamaCare Ordeal

Mon, 2014-12-15 17:49

I recently wrote an article explaining that my family which includes me, my wife, and two small children, saw our health insurance canceled due to the new health care law known as “ObamaCare.” We had an “individual” health savings account (HSA) which covered the four of us and cost $344 a month. That plan was supplemented by a savings account funded by my employer with pre-tax contributions.

I have had an individual HSA through Blue Cross since I began with the Rio Grande Foundation in early 2006.

We were very happy with our plan. It wasn’t perfect, but it covered our family at a reasonable cost and it gave us strong incentives to control costs and prioritize our health care spending. Of course, things happen and we did use the plan. Earlier this year, for example, we had two emergency room visits within a short time period to take care of a gall bladder issue. Thankfully, because our plan had a savings account component, we had pre-tax savings in place to take care of these bills.

Unfortunately, like thousands of other New Mexicans, in early October, we got the news that our health insurance policy was being cancelled at years-end.

The cancellation of our policy meant that starting on November 15 we had to start the search for a new plan. We had heard the nightmares about the glitches with and, thankfully, didn’t experience any of those. That website and the others relating to our search for a new health insurance policy worked well.

The bad news is that when we finally did find health insurance policies that made sense for our family, the prices were far higher than our current plan. The “bare-bones” plans started just north of $500 (an increase of about 50 percent).

Ultimately, we settled on a Presbyterian HMO “Silver” plan costing $722 per month. The plan is better than our current plan in some ways and worse in others. Of course, with a price that is more than double that of our current plan, this represents a significant additional financial burden on me and my family.

The Rio Grande Foundation opposed “ObamaCare” and further federal involvement in America’s health care system for principled philosophical reasons. It was impossible to know at the time just how personally costly this law would end up being.

Unfortunately, our experience is undoubtedly not unique in New Mexico or across the nation.

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

Are school choice tax credits finally coming to NM?

Mon, 2014-12-15 14:34

While RGF has spent a great deal of time since Election Day discussing the likely benefits of a Right to Work law, such legislation is by no means the only potential policy reform that has been made more likely in the wake of the Republican takeover of New Mexico’s House.

Another such reform is the expansion of school choice options for New Mexico students. As Albuquerque Journal columnist Winthrop Quigley rightly pointed out recently, New Mexico’s education system and poorly-prepared workforce are major impediments to economic growth.

The good news is that there are solutions for our education woes that don’t involve turning the massive, bureaucratic, education system around. Tax credits for school choice are one of them and they have been enacted by 14 states on a bi-partisan, cross-ideological basis. From conservative strongholds like Alabama and Arizona to liberal Rhode Island and center-left Pennsylvania, children have gained access to school choice tax credits.

In 2015, New Mexico will once again have legislation introduced to create a tax credit scholarship program the basic outline of which is explained here. We know that the primary opponents of school choice, the teachers’ unions, have less power than they did before, but there is no way to know at this point whether the Legislature, particularly the Senate, will stand up for kids or for the status quo.

Misconceptions Abound on “Right to Work”

Fri, 2014-12-12 17:23

In the wake of the 2014 elections, New Mexico has a unique opportunity to enacted long-overdue economic reforms. The goal of those reforms must be to wean our struggling economy off of an increasingly-unreliable Washington by developing a strong private sector.

At the top of the agenda is a “right to work” law which, far from being “anti-union” would simply prohibit so-called “closed shop” agreements that require workers to pay union dues as a pre-condition of employment. Forcing workers to pay dues for any organization is simply wrong. Private sector unions can and should exist and they would be better advocates for workers if they actually have to prove they are worthy of membership.

It is worth noting that 20 of the 24 current “right to work” states have higher private sector unionization rates than New Mexico. In other words, due to the historical weakness of New Mexico’s private sector, these unions have had relatively few members. If New Mexico can strengthen its private sector with “right to work” and some other pro-growth policy reforms, private sector unions could see real growth.

Union growth took place in “right to work” states between 2011 and 2012 when those states saw an overall increase of 39,000 union members while non-“right to work” states lost 390,000 members, a 3.4 percent decrease.

Despite recent statements to the contrary by AFL-CIO president Jon Hendry a “right to work” law won’t kill New Mexico’s film industry. In fact, according to a report by Film Production Capital which ranked state film programs, the top three film-friendly states (Louisiana, Georgia, and North Carolina) are all “right to work.” New Mexico was ranked 7th.

The real reason New Mexico policymakers are looking seriously at “right to work” is the potential economic and job-growth potential. By any reasonable measuring stick, “right to work” states have been outperforming “forced unionism” states for years. In 2013, 8 of the top 10 states in job growth were “right to work.”

Between 2002 and 2012, fully 9 of the top 10 states in job growth were “right to work.” On the other hand, each of ten slowest-growth states over that time span lacked a “right to work” law.

Notably, while job growth is higher in “right to work” states, personal income growth is growing faster in these states as well.

Yes, but isn’t “right to work” really “right to work for less?” It is true that “forced unionism” states have higher median incomes, but once those incomes are adjusted for living costs, it is in the “right to work” states that a median personal income goes further. In fact, once cost of living is accounted for, the median income in “right to work” states is about $5,000 higher than in “forced-unionism” states.

If “right to work” were so awful and really meant the destruction of worker incomes, one might expect that such states would be losing population. The reality is, however, that Americans are moving in ever-greater numbers to “right to work” states. According to the US Census, between 2000 and 2010, “right to work” states saw their populations grow by nearly 16 percent while other states grew by about 6 percent.

Lastly, contrary to the hysterical statements of union leaders, “right to work” is popular. According to a national Gallup poll released in August, 65 percent of Democrats support “right to work” while an even more overwhelming 3 of 4 Republicans and independents supported it.

Those are enviable popularity numbers for any politician, but it is even more noteworthy that in the same Gallup poll Americans approved of unions 53-38 percent. In other words, Americans understand that one can support unions and support “right to work” at the same time.

Our children shouldn’t have to leave our state to find decent jobs. We can begin reforming our economy by making New Mexico “right to work.”

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

Recent radio interviews/discussions w/ Robert Bryce, on unemployment rate improvement, and the New Mexico Spaceport

Thu, 2014-12-11 17:46

Paul Gessing recently interviewed energy expert Robert Bryce on the “New Mexico Freedom Hour.”

Gessing also spoke to Mike Jaxson on “This Week in the Pecos Valley” about the Spaceport’s problems and the recent improvement in unemployment rates both nationally and in New Mexico.

Energy Expert Robert Bryce Discusses “Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper” in Albuquerque

Thu, 2014-12-11 17:17

Robert Bryce is one of America’s foremost authors and experts on energy. Specifically, he is an optimist about America’s economic future fueled in part by affordable, reliable energy. Bryce is also a skeptic regarding the “politically-correct” sources of energy beloved by environmentalists.

He discussed his book and his views on some important energy issues including the “shale revolution,” coal, “renewables,” and his optimism about America’s future. Video is available below:

Robert Bryce discusses, Smaller, Faster, Lighter, Denser, Cheaper in Albuquerque, NM on December, 9, 2014 from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.