How did your legislators vote on freedom during the 2013 legislative session?

For the first time ever, during the 2013 legislative session, the Rio Grande Foundation created a tool called "Freedom Index" which allowed legislators and constituents alike to see how our representatives voted on freedom issues on the floor of the Legislature.

We have created infographics for each house and each region of the state to allow users to compare their legislators against each other within the same region. Check out the following documents:

Eastern New Mexico
Western New Mexico
Southern New Mexico
Northern New Mexico
Santa Fe area
Albuquerque area

Debate Round Two - Albuquerque

Debate Round Two: "Rising Inequality in America ...
Should Government Respond? If so, how?"

There is no doubt that increased inequality of incomes is a reality in modern American society. To many economic conservatives and adherents to free market ideas like Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing, this inequality is an inevitable result of broad societal changes, many of which are beyond the scope of government redress.

To left-liberals like Nick Estes, formerly of New Mexico Voices for Children, inequality is a serious problem undermining the very foundation of democracy and demanding an immediate and meaningful response from policymakers.

Who's right? You be the judge. Gessing and Estes will face off in a debate over inequality in America. Attendance is free.

  • When:  The debate will be held from 6:30 to 8:00PM on Wednesday, June 12, 2013.
  • Where:  Room 2401 at the University of New Mexico Law School. The Law School is located at: 1117 Stanford NE, Albuquerque, NM  87131.
  • Who:  Paul Gessing, president of New Mexico's free market think tank and Nick Estes, formerly of the progressive think tank and advocacy organization Voices for Children. The panel will be moderated by Dennis Domrzalski a reporter with Albuquerque Business First. Questions will be taken from the audience.

Come by for an interesting discussion and see if we all can't learn something.

2013-06-12 18:30 - 20:00

Marketplace Fairness Act is Unfair

The US Senate, with the support of New Mexico’s Martin Heinrich and Tom Udall, recently passed legislation called the “Marketplace Fairness Act.” The idea behind the legislation is to set up a new taxation regime that would allow states to collect sales taxes on ALL online sales.

Currently, due to the US Supreme Court’s Quill decision of the early 1990s, online merchants must collect all sales taxes due if they have a physical presence in a particular state, but “mom and pop” merchants are not forced to act as tax collectors for the 9,600+ taxing jurisdictions throughout the United States. According to tables available online from New Mexico’s Tax and Revenue Department, there are 24 taxing districts in Bernalillo County alone and easily more than 100 statewide.

Exporting Liquefied Natural Gas Would be Immediate Economic Boon for New Mexico

(Albuquerque) If the Obama Administration approves liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports to non-free trade nations (those that do not have separate trade agreements with the United States), New Mexico could see an immediate increase in economic output of $200 million and the addition of 2,000 jobs according to a new Rio Grande Foundation report.

The issue of whether or not to export a portion of America’s bounty of clean natural gas has generated heated debate pitting some environmentalists and manufacturers who oppose exports against producers and free trade supporters who wish to allow exports.

The Rio Grande Foundation has come down firmly on the side of free trade and those who wish to sell natural gas around the world.

Said Foundation President Paul Gessing, “Philosophically, this view flows directly from our support for free markets, but it also is a product of our desire to strengthen New Mexico’s economy by providing new markets for natural gas produced within our borders.”

To come to its conclusions regarding the jobs and economic input of natural gas exports, the Foundation relied on data available from IHS Global Insight which stated that “exports would create over 100,000 direct, indirect, and economy wide jobs and have an immediate impact resulting in between $3.6 and $5.2 billion in potential revenues.”

According to the US Energy Information Administration, New Mexico produces 5.3 percent of total US natural gas, thus making it likely that New Mexico would experience a similar ratio of economic benefits.

Continued Gessing, “The economic impact numbers outlined above are just a starting point in terms of economic impact, but 2,000 new jobs would be enough to qualify these new jobs as the 5th-largest private employer in New Mexico were they all at one company.”

In addition to New Mexico jobs, benefits of LNG exports include increasing tax revenues, reduced carbon emissions over other energy sources, reduced trade deficits, a display of principled support of free trade, and closer relations with foreign people and governments.

Concluded Gessing, “LNG exports are a true win-win-win policy, President Obama should act now.”

Gessing recently sat down with KNAT TV to discuss the issue of LNG exports. See that interview below:

Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing discusses the potential for Liquefied Natural Gas Exports on Joy in Our Town from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

John Fund's presentation on elections and an "update from DC"

John Fund is National Affairs Columnist for National Review magazine and an on-air analyst on the Fox News Channel. He is considered a notable expert on American politics and the nexus between politics and economics. He spoke at the Albuquerque Museum in Albuquerque on Monday, April 29, 2013. His presentation is below:

4-30-13 John Fund from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

Debt and Deficit Debate footage/background information posted

Lots of information relating to the debate on federal debts and deficits. Footage of the debate is posted below:

4-18-13 Debate from Paul Gessing on Vimeo.

The powerpoint slides are available online as well with Nick Estes' here and Paul Gessing's here.

Also, Rob Nikolewski of Capitol Report New Mexico interviewed Estes and Gessing prior to the event with footage posted below:

New Report: Prosperity is Proportional to Economic Freedom along New Mexico’s Border

(Albuquerque) Varying levels of economic freedom, both from country to country and state to state, have been widely studied by think tanks and government agencies alike. The strong trend is for economic freedom to be correlated with prosperity.

Nonetheless, few if any reports have directly compared the burden of government across often-arbitrary Western borders.

The new Rio Grande Foundation report, “Liberty, Opportunity, Prosperity along New Mexico’s Border,” is an attempt to localize the impact economic freedom has upon prosperity in New Mexico and border regions in neighboring states. (A summary of the report is available here) The report:

  • Defines economic freedom and explains how and why it varies across political borders that delineate the neighboring counties of New Mexico, Texas, Oklahoma, Colorado and Arizona;
  • Explains why economic freedom is relevant and statistically measures how it leads to prosperity;
  • Ranks economic freedom of New Mexico counties compared to their neighboring counterparts across state lines;
  • Explores the influence federal spending has on local economic freedom and, by extension, prosperity.

Said, Harry Messenheimer, PhD, author of the report, “Unfortunately New Mexico has a reputation is as an economically-unfree state, but on a county-by-county level, economic freedom varies widely.” Continued Messenheimer, “The borders between New Mexico, Arizona, Colorado, and Texas are straight and essentially arbitrary. For that reason neighboring counties along those borders provide a particularly useful laboratory for study of how differences in state/local economic freedom affect prosperity.”

Concluded Messenheimer, “economic freedom often varied a great deal among counties, and we uncovered yet another strong link between economic freedom and prosperity. Based on private earnings per worker as an indicator of prosperity, counties with mostly high economic freedom tended to be 75 percent more prosperous than those with low economic freedom. Moreover, more federal spending was associated with reduced prosperity.”

Natural gas could be NM's Ace in the Hole

Natural gas could revolutionize New Mexico’s economy. The fuel of which New Mexico is among the nation’s leading producers, has seen incredible growth in production with the advent of horizontal fracking and new drilling techniques resulting in a 25 percent increase in US production since just 2007.

The advent of cheap, plentiful natural gas has caused production and drilling to decline temporarily here in New Mexico, but the trend holds great opportunity for our state as well. Why is cheap, plentiful natural gas a good thing?

• It’s relatively green. Compared to coal, natural gas generates less than half of the carbon and a fraction of the sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, and particles such as ash;
• It could drive a rebirth of American industry. Natural gas is a feed-stock in many chemicals and plastics. Having a cheap, plentiful supply here in the US could lead to the re-shoring of manufacturers and thousands of new jobs, a stated goal of the Obama Administration;
• It can be exported for the economic benefit of New Mexicans and the US as a whole. Japan is just one energy-poor nation that is eager to import natural gas from producers in New Mexico as the gas currently available in many overseas markets if four times as expensive as it is here.

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