N.M. Needs Private Sector To Fill Federal Budget Gap

The recent announcement of job cuts at the Los Alamos labs generated some interesting reactions from New Mexico’s political leaders. By and large, Democrats – even those representing the Los Alamos area – were supportive or understanding, while Gov. Martinez ripped the Obama Administration, calling the cuts a “by-product of the dysfunction in Washington, D.C., and the inability to appropriately prioritize national defense and national security in federal spending decisions.”

I chalk up these reactions to politics. Democrats don’t want to be seen as bashing the Obama Administration while Gov. Martinez will take any chance she can to do so. But, neither side is really telling the full story.

Tax reform: Focus on broadness and income

The underlying theme of the 2012 legislative session was taxes, specifically the issue of tax reform. Gov. Martinez put the gross receipts tax on the agenda with her proposals to both exempt certain small businesses from the tax and to reduce the incidence of "pyramiding" which forces businesses and consumers to pay taxes on top of taxes in this state. Forty-million dollars of welcome tax relief was included in the budget, but issues remain.

Senate Finance Committee Chair John Arthur-Smith, D-Deming, made a dramatic point with the introduction of legislation that would have eliminated New Mexico's gross receipts tax entirely. Smith's point is that New Mexico's gross-receipts tax has come to resemble Swiss cheese. Too many loopholes have been added to the tax over the years, thus driving rates on the robust gross receipts tax upward. The tax is now charged at rates rivaling sales tax rates in many states.

Exciting offer for high school students interested in the US Constitution!

The Rio Grande Foundation is pleased to announce that it is working with The Bill of Rights Institute to publicize this upcoming program.

The Bill of Rights Institute is pleased to offer 2 FULL scholarships (each a $1,500 value each) for  New Mexico students to attend the Constitutional Academy this summer. This premier program for high school students to study the Constitution will be held in Washington, D.C. July 9-14, 2012. The program explores the Founding principles of limited government, freedom of religion, and economic liberty to name a few. While in D.C. students will explore the Capitol, Mount Vernon, the National Archives, and other sites while in D.C. and have reading discussions with college professors.

For more information please visit their website at www.billofrightsinstitute.org, or contact Michelle Griffes at (703) 894-1776, ext. 15.

Rio Grande Foundation Signs on to amicus curiaeBrief on Federal Health Care Law

(Albuquerque) This week, an amicus curiae brief signed by the Rio Grande Foundation and New Mexico legislators was filed in preparation for the March 27 Supreme Court oral arguments regarding the constitutionality of the individual mandate in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the health care law signed by President Obama in March of 2010. Dozens of public policy research institutes (including the Rio Grande Foundation) and hundreds of state legislators from across the country signed onto the brief expressing their concern that the affordable, quality health care Americans need cannot be engineered and mandated by politicians and bureaucrats

The brief addresses the simple fact that key components of the Affordable Care Act are unconstitutional, will not provide access to quality care and will stifle health care innovation if implemented in all states. The brief is the latest outcry from citizens and state policy makers about this impending law.

According to the brief, the issue discussed in the brief is:

Can a limited government to whom a free people have delegated only certain enumerated powers commandeer that people into purchasing a product from a private business pursuant to its power to pass laws “necessary and proper for carrying into execution” the authority to “regulate Commerce . . . among the several States”?

You can read the full brief here.

Said Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing “The affordable, quality healthcare we need cannot be created by the White House. Our personal health care decisions should be managed by us and our health care providers, not politicians and bureaucrats.”  

Other New Mexico-based signatories of the brief included Rep. Dennis Roch (R-Texico) who said, “My constituents and I have a growing concern over the federal government’s encroachment into our lives. This unconstitutional health care law gives unprecedented control over the average citizen to Washington bureaucrats. It’s sad that, instead of relying on the federal government to protect its people, we the people must now ask the Supreme Court to protect us against the government itself!”

Rep. Yvette Herrell (R-Alamogordo) argued that “Citizens in New Mexico and around the country are paying attention to how the federal government is trampling on our individual liberties.   We recognize the Obama Administration is attempting to force unconstitutional mandates in the form of health care insurance upon us, and the people will not stand for it.”

Talking education policy on Las Cruces public television

Before the legislative session got started, I sat down with Fred Martino with Las Cruces Public Television to discuss education policy in the 2012 legislative session. While it appears that many of our (and the Gov's) education proposals are not going to pass this session, we are going to continue to push for reform because 49th is not good enough. The interview is about 30 minutes in length.

Rio Grande Foundation and CARE to Host Environmental Scientist and Climate Change “Skeptic” Fred Singer

(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation and the Citizens’ Alliance for Responsible Energy (CARE) will host S. Fred Singer for a lecture and discussion of climate change and climate change policies. Singer is one of the most articulate and best-known “skeptics” regarding the supposed “consensus” on climate change.

The discussion will be held on Wednesday, February 15, from 6pm to 8pm in Room 2401 at the UNM Law School. Admission is $10, payable at the door, and includes light beverages and snacks. The Law School is located at: 1117 Stanford Drive Northeast, Albuquerque, NM 87106-3700.

Singer is Professor Emeritus of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virginia, President of the Science and Environmental Policy Project, a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a Member of the International Academy of Astronautics. He received his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University.

Dr. Singer is the author or editor of fourteen books on climate science, energy, and environmental issues as well as the author of over 400 articles in scientific and public policy journals plus over 200 articles in popular publications, Dr. Singer has been featured in articles in Time, Life, and U. S. News & World Report, and he has been interviewed on Nightline, Today Show, News Hour, Nightwatch, and other national and international television programs.

More recently, he co-authored the New York Times bestseller, Unstoppable Global Warming: Every 1500 Years (Rowman and Littlefield, 2007), and he was also the organizer of NIPCC (Non-governmental International Panel on Climate Change) and lead author in 2008 of its summary report, Nature, Not Human Activity, Rules the Climate.

The event is sure to be a lively and engaging one.

Rhode Island Pension Reforms a Model for New Mexico

The opportunity to get something for nearly nothing is rare indeed. It is even rarer when one is talking about government, an entity that known more for turning something into nothing than the other way around.

But there was recently some good news on the government efficiency front in this country. Not in Washington where the monopolistic federal monolith continues to grow unabated, but at the state level where Americans can vote with their feet, in search of economic freedom and sound economic policies.

The glimmer of hope comes from Rhode Island, the smallest state in the nation and a state controlled by relatively liberal Democrats at the legislative level and a moderate governor who labels himself “Independent.” Politically, we’re not talking about Texas here. Nor are we talking about Wisconsin where Gov. Scott Walker took the government unions on directly and demanded concessions, thus generating a national debate that is still under way. But we are talking about a state, Rhode Island, which had the steepest population decline last year, a factor that undoubtedly spurred legislative action. 

Las Cruces Education Forum Video Posted

The Rio Grande Foundation hosted a forum on K-12 education reform in Las Cruces on Jan. 12. Forum participants included Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation, Sen. Steve Fischmann (D-Las Cruces), Tracey Bryan of the Bridge of Southern New Mexico, and Robert Carreon of Teach for America.

Untitled from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

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