Economy

Las Cruces: Rumble by the Rio debate on NM economy between Paul Gessing and Alan Webber

Check out this exciting free debate event taking place in Las Cruces on Tuesday, October, 21. See flier below for details.

Don’t Roll Back Pension Reforms

I'd typically say that the chances of my penning an opinion piece with a representative of the AFSCME government employee labor union would be as likely as my penning an article with the Easter Bunny (Like Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I don't believe in unionizing government workers). Anyway, the pension reforms passed a few years back are worth defending even if they didn't go nearly far enough.

AFSCME and the Rio Grande Foundation usually have very different positions on a wide range of issues including contentious disagreements over New Mexico’s government pension plans.

Even though we sometimes disagree on the scope and role of government, each of our organizations supports preserving the pension reform that was passed by an overwhelming bipartisan majority in both houses and signed by the Governor in 2013. Specifically, we oppose rolling back that reform in the name of recruiting and retention or special treatment for select groups of employees, including opposing the reintroduction of double dipping.

Prior to the bipartisan pension reform, the two funds were looking at a combined $12 billion in unfunded liabilities, and were on a trajectory to have over $60 billion in unfunded liabilities in the next three decades. While there is serious disagreement between us over whether the pension reforms went far enough, there is 100% agreement between us that the reforms were a step in the right direction.

Unfortunately, some groups may be trying to cut deals with politicians during election season to give their members special treatment and to worsen the solvency of the funds. There are legitimate recruiting and retention problems across state and local governments, but using the pension funds as a piggy bank to sweeten employee compensation packages is a terribly fiscally irresponsible idea.

Yes, the condition of the funds is improving -- that was the entire point of our bipartisan reform – but we need to let the reforms work before there’s any discussion of undoing even small parts of the difficult and excellent work achieved by leaders in both parties.

Undermining a successful bi-partisan reform for the sake of small political favors during election season would be a disservice to New Mexico's taxpayers and employees alike.

Paul Gessing is president of the Rio Grande Foundation, New Mexico’s free market think tank;
Carter Bundy is legislative director at the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees, a union representing primarily government workers in New Mexico.

Sen. John Arthur-Smith on NM Freedom Hour this week

The New Mexico Freedom Hour is presented by the Rio Grande Foundation. It next airs on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from 12pm to 1pm on 770 KKOB AM. This week, Rob Nikolewski of Capitol Report New Mexico will be sitting in for Paul Gessing:

Nikolewski’s guest will be New Mexico Sen. John Arthur-Smith, D-Deming. Smith is chairman of the powerful Senate Finance Committee.

The show will be focused on New Mexico’s struggling economy and what the New Mexico Legislature can/will do about it.

Listeners are encouraged not only to tune in and listen, but to call in with questions: 505-243-3333.

How green is that plastic bag ban? Presentation video available

Julian Morris of Reason Foundation recently presented on the issue of plastic bag bans at a series of events in New Mexico. Already, Santa Fe and Silver City have bans in place. Morris is author of a report on the is the author of the new report "How Green Is that Grocery Bag Ban? An Assessment of the Environmental and Economic Effects of Grocery Bag Bans and Taxes".

Video of Morris' presentation (and a five minute personal introduction by RGF President Paul Gessing) is below and his powerpoint slides are available here:

The ineffectiveness of plastic bag bans presentation by Julian Morris of Reason Foundation from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

This week on the New Mexico Freedom Hour

The New Mexico Freedom Hour is presented by the Rio Grande Foundation. It next airs on Saturday, September 12, 2014 from 12pm to 1pm on 770 KKOB AM. This week we’ll take on two important subjects relating to New Mexico’s economy:

• In the first half hour, host Paul Gessing will talk about New Mexico’s underfunded government employee pension system which was found to be the most underfunded system among any of the 50 states according to a new report by the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI). We’ll discuss the report, what makes New Mexico’s pension system so dire, and what needs to remedy the problem with Aloysius Hogan, a Senior Fellow with CEI.


• In the second half hour, Gessing will interview site selection expert John Boyd about the Tesla decision, why he thinks Tesla chose Nevada over New Mexico, and what New Mexico should consider doing to make it more attractive as a business destination in the future.

Listeners are encouraged not only to tune in and listen, but to call in with questions: 505-243-3333.

Discussing Right to Work and Work/Education/Volunteering Requirements for Food Stamps/SNAP

RGF president Paul Gessing recently appeared on the public affairs show of KNAT TV. There are two separate interviews, one on New Mexico's economic situation and the need for a right to work law, the next on Gov. Martinez's efforts to re-impose work/education/volunteering requirements for food stamp recipients. Total interview time for the combined interviews is 30 minutes:

Paul Gessing discusses the potential for a Right to Work law in New Mexico and Gov. Martinez's Medicaid reforms from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Duel in the Desert debate video

The video of last night's "Duel in the Desert" debate between myself and former gubernatorial candidate Alan Webber is now up:

9-8-14 Duel in Desert: Paul Gessing and Alan Webber debate the New Mexico Economy (moderated by Gene Grant) from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

In case you missed it, we also had "dueling" opinion pieces that are now posted at NM Policy Debate.

While the crowd was definitely, pro-Webber, no matter which side of the debate you fall on, the New Mexico economy is the single most important issue facing our state. I was gratified to see hundreds of people show up to hear a discussion of the issues. It was a great opportunity to present the Rio Grande Foundation's vision of a more economically-free New Mexico to a new group. Definitely not "preaching to the choir."

Local, National, Global: Paul Gessing interview on the NM economy

I recently sat down with Jamai Haquani of the Albuquerque-area public access show Local, National, Global to discuss New Mexico's struggling economy and what can be done about it. See part 1 of the interview below:

part 2:

part 3:

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