The results of yet another report on New Mexico’s film subsidy program were recently released. This study was commissioned by the New Mexico Film Office and conducted by the Canadian accounting firm MNP. It included payroll data, industry interviews, and financial reports filed with the Film Office.
The report further casts doubt on the idea that New Mexico’s generous film subsidy program will ever lead to a permanent, sustainable film industry presence in the Land of Enchantment.
According to the report, “total statewide spending on goods and services by … film and television productions declined from 2011 through 2014, with $118.7 million being spent in the 2011 budget year and $82.8 million being spent in 2014.” In addition, direct employment fell between the 2010 and 2014 fiscal years.
While at a recent conference with fellow free market think tanks, I sat down with Caleb Brown of the Cato Institute to discuss New Mexico's successful reform of the State's civil asset asset forfeiture laws.
The podcast is just a few minutes in length and can be found below.
There has been a decent amount of discussion in New Mexico over the future of Amtrak's Southwest Chief. The train runs on the tracks that were purchased by the State for the Rail Runner and run from Raton in the north through Albuquerque. The train then runs West through Gallup and Grants, but New Mexico doesn't own those tracks.
Amtrak is demanding improvements to the tracks or they won't run the trains anymore. As noted in the story, Gov. Martinez put up $1 million of our tax dollars as a "down payment" on the $4 million annually that Amtrak is asking for states through which the Southwest Chief runs.
The interview is below. My interview starts around the halfway mark. One interesting note is that the reporter who did the story is based out of Los Angeles. Even though the Southwest Chief travels between New Mexico and Los Angeles, as he notes, he flew home.
The Rio Grande Foundation is an unabashedly free market organization, often labeled “conservative.” That doesn’t mean that we don’t agree with the political left on various policy issues, but it does mean that opportunities for such agreement require an honest assessment of reform opportunities and principles.
An ever-growing area on which left and right might agree is occupational licensing and the ever-increasing thicket of regulations facing workers as they attempt to make an honest living. This has been an issue of interest to free market advocates going back to the 1970s and economist Milton Friedman.
In a sign that at least some liberals are starting to see Friedman’s point of view, President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisors recently released a report called “Occupational Licensing: A Framework for Policymakers.”
The report detailed some of the very real problems with occupational licensing. As the paper concluded:
There is evidence that licensing requirements raise the price of goods and services, restrict employment opportunities, and make it more difficult for workers to take their skills across State lines. Too often, policymakers do not carefully weigh these costs and benefits when making decisions about whether or how to regulate a profession through licensing.
Furthermore, as the report noted, there has been an explosion in the area of professional licensing. More than one-quarter of U.S. workers now require a license to do their jobs, with most of these workers licensed by the states. The share of workers licensed at the State level has risen five-fold since the 1950s. About two-thirds of this increase stems from an increase in the number of professions that require a license.
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?
The Rail Runner, Bus Rapid Transit, and land-use planning; these are just a few of the issues currently being discussed by New Mexico's political leadership and economic development establishment.
What should advocates of the free market consider on these issues? Is bus rapid transit going to help or hurt mobility in and around Albuquerque? Should we really shut down the Rail Runner? What about TIDD's and the development known as Santolina?
Randal O'Toole is a Cato Institute Senior Fellow working on urban growth, public land, and transportation issues.
O'Toole's research on national forest management, culminating in his 1988 book, Reforming the Forest Service, has had a major influence on Forest Service policy and on-the-ground management. His analysis of urban land-use and transportation issues, brought together in his 2001 book, The Vanishing Automobile and Other Urban Myths, has influenced decisions in cities across the country. In his book The Best-Laid Plans, O'Toole calls for repealing federal, state, and local planning laws and proposes reforms that can help solve social and environmental problems without heavy-handed government regulation.
O'Toole's latest book is American Nightmare: How Government Undermines The Dream of Homeownership. O'Toole is the author of numerous Cato papers. He has also written for Regulation magazine as well as op-eds and articles for numerous other national journals and newspapers. O'Toole travels extensively and has spoken about free-market environmental issues in dozens of cities.
An Oregon native, O'Toole was educated in forestry at Oregon State University and in economics at the University of Oregon.
What: The City of Albuquerque is applying for $80 million in federal funds to build a new "Bus Rapid Transit" system along Central. Is this a good idea or a bad one?
Two people who both care and are knowledgeable about the proposed project are going to discuss the issue -- with the discussion and a public question-and-answer period moderated by yet another community leader and regular transportation writer from the state’s largest newspaper.
There is no charge for this public event!
When: Thursday, September 3, 6:00 - 7:30pm
Where: Room 2401 at UNM Law School 1117 Stanford Dr NE, Albuquerque, NM 87106
Principal at Geltmore, LLC
A commercial property
President of the Rio Grande Foundation
A free market, state-based think tank
headquartered in Albuquerque
Member of Albuquerque Journal Editorial Board, writes a
regular "Road Warrior" column
Thanks for your interest and support.