Education

Rio Grande Foundation Launches NEW Radio Show “Tipping Point New Mexico” This Saturday, April 9 from noon to 3pm

The Rio Grande Foundation is launching a new radio show on a new home, “The Rock of Talk” 95.9FM and 1600AM. The show called “Tipping Point New Mexico” will air Saturdays weekly from noon to 3pm.

Hosts will rotate but will include RGF's Paul Gessing, Dowd Muska, and Burly Cain.

Issues addressed on the show will include New Mexico's economy and the importance of 2016 in turning our state around. If you want to participate in the discussion, you can call in at: 505-550-5500.

This week we'll talk about Albuquerque Rapid Transit, the push by some to raise taxes in New Mexico, and more.

 

 

 

A Dubious Bet on College and Economic Development

This op-ed ran in The Santa Fe New Mexican on March 20th.

This year marks the 20th anniversary of New Mexico's Legislative Lottery Scholarship Program.

Unfortunately, there isn't much to celebrate.

A well-intentioned attempt to boost access to higher learning in the Land of Enchantment, the program was crafted by a Democratic legislature and Republican governor. But it suffers from a serious, if seldom-discussed, flaw.

Lottery scholarships certainly don’t have a popularity problem. A report by the New Mexico Higher Education Department found that between 2000 and 2014, the number of program recipients doubled. Expenditures, of course, ballooned as well, rising to $66.8 million in the 2014 fiscal year.

By law, the New Mexico Lottery Authority is required to set aside 30 percent of monthly gross revenue for scholarships. But solvency has been an issue for years -- in 2014, gamblers supplied just 61 percent of the program's funding. A slumping economy and a decline in "scratcher" sales sent legislators and the authority scrambling for cost savings and new monies. Eligibility was tightened, and the number of semesters covered for a four-year degree fell from eight to seven. Tobacco-settlement revenue has been transferred to the tuition fund, and special appropriations have been made. In 2014, legislators began to divert a portion of the revenue stream from New Mexico’s excise tax on liquor. In the just-completed session, lawmakers required the lottery authority to devote unclaimed-prize cash to scholarships. (Governor Martinez vetoed the bill.)

Rio Grande Foundation to Participate in National School Choice Week Events Throughout New Mexico: Among 16,140 Nationwide

(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation (along with a host of organizations that support educational choice) is pleased to participate in School Choice Week 2016.

The Foundation is scheduled to participate in two New Mexico celebrations of School Choice Week, one in the Capitol in Santa Fe and the second

  • Join us at our State's Capitol on Thursday, January 28, from 1pm to 3pm for speakers and performances relating to School Choice Week. Speakers will include Secretary Hanna Skandera, a representative of the Rio Grande Foundation, and performers that are coming together to celebrate school choice in our state. Hundreds are expected and all are welcome!
  • A second event is being held in Las Cruces at 7pm on Thursday as well. The organizers are from Students 4 Liberty at New Mexico State (check back for details).

Said Muska, “Freedom of choice is at the very heart of the Rio Grande Foundation's mission. Given New Mexico's real struggles with educational attainment, it is high time we give parents and students the freedom to attain the education that makes sense for them.”

School choice is a broad term that includes, but is not limited to: magnet schools, inter-district transfers, charter schools, parochial and private schools, virtual schools, and home-schooling.

The Rio Grande Foundation is philosophically supportive of all forms of school choice, but approaches education policy from the bottom-up perspective. In other words, funding should follow the students giving them the power to make the educational choice that makes the most sense for them. After all, no one has a greater interest in the success of a particular student than that student's parent or guardian.

For a complete listing of School Choice Week events and participants, go to the School Choice Week official website.

RGF president Paul Gessing discusses the impact of Medicaid expansion on KNAT TV-23

Watch “Joy in Our Town” with host, Ebony Romero, and guest, Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, as they talk specifically about the MEDICAID expansion in New Mexico.

Posted by KNAT - TV 23 on Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Slew of Bad Rankings Reflect New Mexico's Difficult Reality

Over the years, New Mexicans have grown used to seeing their state at the bottom of a lot of good lists and at the top of many of the bad ones. This long-term systemic problem has grown worse due to declines in federal spending and employment at the Labs and military installations as well as plunging prices of oil and natural gas.

There are a lot of great people in New Mexico. We have a unique culture, internationally-recognized events and attractions, all topped off by incredible weather and landscapes. Unfortunately, for decades many believed that federal largess and mineral wealth were adequate bases for our economy. Business-friendly economic policies were ignored in favor of finding ways to tax and redistribute resources from these two industries.

This phenomenon is quite common. The list of resource-rich, but economically-backward nations is long including Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria, Libya, and Iraq (to name a few).

In just the span of a few weeks New Mexicans found their state ranked poorly on a series of national reports:

‘Political pay’ at APS is a bad deal

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.

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.

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?

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