Economy

Unfair subsidies to businesses won’t help New Mexico’s economy recover

There is no question that New Mexico faces significant economic challenges. Our overreliance on Washington's largesse combined with business-unfriendly tax and regulatory structures have finally caught up with us. This has led to New Mexico bleeding jobs and people to other states, particularly our economically freer neighbors.

This has led to desperation among some quarters. Democrat Sens. Tim Keller and Jacob Candelaria seem to have even proposed a special legislative session for the sole purpose of offering subsidies and incentives to the Tesla car company. The hope is to attract a proposed battery factory to the state despite no concrete indicators from Tesla as to where they wish to locate said factory or what their criterion are.

Unfortunately, these Democrat legislators are not the only ones willing to engage in bad economic policies for a short-term political benefit in the form of "jobs." The Doña Ana County Commission recently voted 5-0 to grant an industrial revenue bond (IRB) to a Turkish wire company to encourage the company to come to Santa Teresa. While this financing mechanism is somewhat complicated as a means of giving special advantages to recipients, the basic effect of an IRB is that it exempts the recipient, for up to 30 years, from property taxes on land, buildings, the useful life of equipment purchased with bond proceeds and an exemption from applicable gross receipts taxes on the purchase of project equipment.

NM Missing out on post-recession gains

The following letter appeared in the Albuquerque Journal Business Outlook section on Monday, June 30.

Another month and another sorry set of job “growth” data for New Mexico right there on page 2. In fact, this is the most important information that appears in the Business Journal. For those of you who missed it, New Mexico is the only of nine Western states that lost jobs year-over year from April 2013 to April 2014.

Nevada led the region with 3.7 percent job growth while Texas grew by 3.2 percent. These states’ economies are quite different. Nevada boomed during the 2000s and was hammered by the recession while Texas’ economy held relatively firm during the recession and has absolutely boomed since then. Both, however, are right to work states (no forced-unionism) and lack personal income taxes at the state level.

In a recent analysis of New Mexico’s performance on a variety of “business friendly” or economic freedom rankings, New Mexico’s average ranking was 33rd while Texas’ average ranking was six and Nevada’s 18. Utah, Colorado, Arizona, and Oklahoma also scored consistently and substantially better than did New Mexico.

New Mexico has a unique and wonderful history, but it also has a history of anti-freedom economic policies, poverty, and dependency. Until that mentality changes in Santa Fe and the Legislature and PRC adopt policies that unleash rather than constrict markets, New Mexico’s economy will underperform, poverty will be high, and our most-educated young people will leave the state.

Paul J. Gessing
President
Rio Grande Foundation
PO Box 40336
Albuquerque, NM 87196
505-264-6090

New Mexico’s Incredible Shrinking Workforce

(Albuquerque) What happened to New Mexico’s workforce during and in the wake of the “Great Recession?” The tenor of that question might change dramatically with one look at the chart below. As clearly seen below, New Mexico’s workforce participation rate which had been on a general upward trajectory since the mid-1970s, dropped precipitously during the recent recession.

In a new policy brief (available at the following link), “The Troubling Case of New Mexico’s Disappearing Workforce,” Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing analyzes New Mexico’s workforce participation rate and how it compares to other states, explains why workforce participation is so important, and briefly outlines some ideas for New Mexico policymakers to consider to bring more of our state’s workers back into the workforce.

Federal lands in New Mexico: Recent presentations

Carl Graham of the Coalition for Self Government and I had a whirlwind tour of New Mexico to discuss federal lands issues in the West and New Mexico in particular. We discussed New Mexico's economy and how it is impacted by federal lands as well as solutions like "Financial Ready" and "Transfer of Federal Lands" (TPLA) legislation.

Carl spoke at a well-attended public meeting in Albuquerque:

Carl Graham of the Coalition for Self Government in the West speaks at Rio Grande Foundation event from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

He and I (my presentation starts at 45:20) also spoke to the New Mexico Association of Counties meeting in Deming (the Association passed a resolution supporting TPLA):

Carl Graham of Coalition for Self Government in the West & Paul Gessing of RGF speak at New Mexico Association of Counties event from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Rob Nikolewski of Capitol Report New Mexico covered the Albuquerque event and interviewed Graham here.

More information will certainly follow on this important issue.

Federal energy policy regulator could negatively impact New Mexico

Though many New Mexicans may not be aware of it, especially given our state’s ongoing economic struggles, New Mexico is in the midst of a boom in energy development. New Mexico has vast deposits of oil and gas that can help our state transcend its struggling economy, leading to better jobs and higher wages.

Just ask the people of North Dakota, whose oil and gas production has resulted in an unemployment rate of less than 3% and fast-food workers being hired at $15 per hour. How important is New Mexico’s energy development? Nearly one-third of all state funding to public schools, as well as to New Mexico’s higher-education institutions, comes from taxes, royalties and fees paid by oil-and-gas operations around the state.

The main threat to New Mexico reaping this huge windfall is an anti-oil and gas movement in our nation’s capital, the same one that has put the Keystone Pipeline project in limbo. Leading this charge is Nevada Senator Harry Reid, who wants hand-picked energy novice Norman Bay to lead the country’s premier energy agency, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). With Bay at the helm of FERC, New Mexico’s energy boom can be stopped,

New Mexico sticks out like a sore thumb on economic liberty in the Southwest

Recently, New Mexico saw the following bad jobs news. Specifically, New Mexico is losing jobs while its neighbors are gaining jobs.

But why is New Mexico economically-weaker than its neighbors? We have repeatedly made the case that New Mexico is less economically-free and is less friendly to business. This is not a view isolated to a few reports, rather it is a consistent finding of those who report on such issues. The Rio Grande Foundation recently looked at eight separate rankings of business friendliness and economic freedom (see them below with appropriate links). They measure different things, but consistently find New Mexico to perform worse than its neighbors.

Mercatus Center (personal freedom scores were eliminated from our state rankings): New Mexico's score: 28; regional average: 16.
Fraser Institute Economic Freedom: New Mexico's score: 50; regional average: 12.
Forbes: Best States for Business: New Mexico's score: 45; regional average: 15.
CNBC: Best States for Business: New Mexico's score: 36; regional average: 17.
Chief Executive Magazine: Best States for Business: New Mexico's score: 30; regional average: 11.
Tax Foundation: Business Tax Climate: New Mexico's score: 38; regional average: 17.
Federation of Tax Administrators (Taxes as Percent of Personal Income): (note, since FTA ranks heavier burdens with a lower number, we have inverted the ranking so as to make the lower number "good" or more friendly to business and work and the higher number "less-so": New Mexico's score: 36; regional average: 16.
ALEC Rich States, Poor States: New Mexico's score: 37, regional average: 12.

We put together the following map which illustrates the average scores on these various reports below. Clearly, New Mexico trails its neighbors when it comes to business friendliness and economic freedom.

FreedomWorks President and CEO’s Remarks at Rio Grande Foundation luncheon

The Rio Grande Foundation hosted a luncheon on May 13, 2014 with Matt Kibbe, President and CEO of the grassroots/Tea Party group FreedomWorks. Kibbe is the author of "Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff" and he discussed the book and its message at the event.

FreedomWorks President Matt Kibbe Discusses "Don't Hurt People and Don't Take Their Stuff" from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

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