See what the legislature is doing relative to energy, utilities and the environment:
I recently spoke to KRQE Channel 13 about the impending "Fiscal Cliff."
(Albuquerque) New Mexico’s business community and other groups have long discussed in broad terms the need for “regulatory reform.” And, as the Rio Grande Foundation has discovered by undertaking an exhaustive review of regulations imposed by various New Mexico governing bodies, our state is indeed overregulated at great cost to taxpayers, potential entrepreneurs and workers, and consumers.
Said Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing of his organization’s findings, “We looked high and low for some of the most obvious and egregious regulations on a wide variety of issues. While the primary state-level regulatory bodies in New Mexico are the Legislature and the Public Regulation Commission, burdensome and unnecessary regulations administered by the Courts were an unexpected discovery.”
To publicize the need for regulatory reforms and elimination, the Foundation will be publishing “an email a day” throughout January. These emails will include information on what other states do or don’t do to analyze regulations prior to adoption, explain how former US President Jimmy Carter used deregulation to set the table for the 1980s economic boom, and outlines a path toward wiser, fairer, more economically viable system for New Mexico’s various regulatory bodies.
Among the most egregious regulations found in the report:
• According to the Institute for Justice, there exist 52 low-income occupations that require licensing in New Mexico, including everything from funeral attendants to animal trainers. These requirements order individuals to pay fees as well as invest a considerable amount of time in training and education for jobs that could easily be learned in other ways;
• In 2009 the New Mexico State Legislature passed SB 33, which mandates that prevailing wages be set by collective bargaining agreements. These “Prevailing Wage” laws unnecessarily increase the prices taxpayers pay for roads and schools (and other public works progress) by up to 15%;
• New Mexico’s “common carrier” laws require potential entrants into the market for taxi cabs and other motor vehicle industries to gain approval from their competition. As Leslie Linthicum wrote in a recent Albuquerque Journal piece, this resulted in one prospective taxi operator spending eight years fighting to obtain approval from the Public Regulation Commission;
• The New Mexico Spaceport which cost taxpayers $209 million will be a total failure unless the Legislature passes a liability exemption for suppliers of parts and equipment for the spacecraft that will launch from the Spaceport. This liability exemption will not impact New Mexicans in any direct way unless they choose to pay $200,000 to go into space.
Concludes Gessing, “These and other regulations are holding New Mexico’s economy back. Nonetheless, deregulation should not be a partisan issue. While we have tried to be thorough, there are undoubtedly other rules and regulations that should be addressed. We welcome the input of others (and encourage you to sign up for the emails) at: info [at] riograndefoundation [dot] org
See the full report here.
Federal overreach and the unending growth of Washington’s power has been a real problem for decades. That may be a trite statement these days with Washington now in firm control of Americans’ health care, but a real-world example from right here in New Mexico should give us all pause.
In 2005 Peter and Frankie Smith purchased 20 acres of property located 19 miles south of Santa Fe, New Mexico. The retired couple found much of the land in desperate need of maintenance, stating that when the property was first purchased, truckloads of garbage and debris littered the area. During the cleaning process, the Smith’s smoothed out a portion of an arroyo in order to safely remove the trash.
Recently, we at RGF made a pretty big deal out of a Forbes report that called New Mexico the number one "death spiral" state in the nation. Albuquerque Journal economy reporter Winthrop Quigley took issue with the report and argued that New Mexico, while it has some problems, is not in a "death spiral."
Rio Grande Foundation policy analyst Marcos Portillo wrote the following response to Quigley which appeared in Monday's Albuquerque Journal.
Mr. Quigley may believe that Forbes’ “death spiral” claim is unwarranted, but the fact is that New Mexico’s economy is among the worst in the nation.
Quigley’s assumption is that New Mexico will continue getting infused with federal dollars into the foreseeable future. Federal funds currently make up nearly $6 billion of the $15 billion in total state expenditures. New Mexico also has one of the highest concentrations of federal employees (of about 33,000) in its various military bases and laboratories.
When the federal government tightens its belt, our economic problems could worsen.
Currently, New Mexico is: Ranked dead last in economic freedom by the recent Fraser Institute report;
Has a poverty rate that is highest in the nation;
Has an education system ranked 46th of 47 by the US Department of Education;
Has a Human Services Department website proclaiming that it is “serving one in three” even prior to the massive government expansion under ObamaCare.
Has a judicial climate ranked 44th of 50 by the US Chamber of Commerce;
And, while most states experienced some economic growth over the past year, New Mexico lost more jobs than any state but coal-dependent West Virginia.
There’s great potential in NM and many good things about the state and its people. Unfortunately, its current economic structure is dependent on the whims of bureaucrats 3,000 miles away and public policies are holding us and our citizens back.
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Rio Grande Foundation
Much has been said about the “fiscal cliff” in Washington. Not nearly as much has been said about the impact slowing federal spending will have on New Mexico. Less still has been put forth in terms of economic policies that can make our state less dependant on Washington.
For starters, it is worth a bit of history. The Rio Grande Foundation has recently produced a chart showing New Mexico’s per-capita personal income as compared to the national average dating back to 1940. Since about 1960, New Mexicans’ personal incomes’ have been between 75 and 85 percent of the national average, thus making us, by most any measure, among the poorest states in the nation. That’s the bad news.
The really scary news is that back in 1940, prior to WWII and the rise of the military-industrial complex, New Mexico was truly “dirt poor” with personal income levels barely above 60 percent of the national average.
The question is, if we see spending cuts of the scope needed to close trillion dollar plus deficits, will New Mexico wind up dirt poor again? It will unless our elected leaders make needed reforms.
RGF president Paul Gessing, Gerry Bradley of Voices for Children, and Chris Hellman of the National Priorities Project appeared recently on the KUNM call in show to discuss the "fiscal cliff," the national budget situation, and its potential impact on New Mexico.