Note: Education tax credit legislation has been introduced this year in the New Mexico House as HB 333 by Rep. James Strickler
Children aren't widgets. Each child learns differently, and one-size-fits-all education cannot work for every pupil.
That's why a growing number of elected officials and school-reform activists support education tax credits. The idea is simple: Shouldn't parents decide which learning environment is best for their kids? And shouldn't the options include public, private, or religious schools?
Offering scholarships to low-income children is smart policy for two reasons: boosted academic achievement and tax relief. Here's how the system would operate: Individuals and corporations would receive tax breaks to fund scholarships to low-income students through qualified nonprofit organizations. Previous bills set the credits at up to $500 for individuals — $1,000 for married couples filing jointly — and up to $50,000 for corporations. Participating students need to qualify for the federal school-lunch program. Parents could use the scholarships to enroll their children in a secular or religious school, a charter school, or a Bureau of Indian Education school.
Anti-tax, limited government activist Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform recently visited New Mexico to speak to supporters of the Rio Grande Foundation. His remarks can be seen below:
The local daily morning tv show "Morning Brew" has been revamped with ABQ Biz First's Dan Mayfield as the host. It is a very professional show and Mayfield does a great job keeping the show moving and asking probing questions. I was honored to be on the show on Wednesday, Feb. 4 with a true "all star" cast that included the Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Undersheriff Rudy Mora. As you can see below, the discussion tackled a wide array of issues.
First, Lt. Gov. John Sanchez and I discuss "right to work" and other economic issues facing New Mexico with host Dan Mayfield
Then, Sanchez and I are joined by Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales and Undersheriff Rudy Mora explore the impact of poverty on crime and crime on our State's economic situation and what can be done about it (including education reform and school choice).
A third segment included a discussion of "double dipping" and vocational education:
(Albuquerque, NM) – The Rio Grande Foundation, using data produced by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University (BHI) has analyzed the Obama Administration Environmental Protection Agency’s proposed “Clean Air Regulations” and found that if consumers are concerned with the electricity rate hikes being proposed by Public Service Company of New Mexico (PNM), they will face an even greater impact under the new federal regulations.
The new report is available here. Among the report’s findings:
• Before factoring in PNM’s proposed 12 percent rate hike, New Mexico’s electricity prices are relatively high compared to other states. In part this is due to aggressive renewable portfolio standards;
• The EPA has introduced three new emission rules that will either force coal-fired generation plants to close or adopt expensive and unproven technologies such as carbon capture and storage;
• These rules will cost the New Mexico economy $185 million between implementation and 2030, according to data provided by the Beacon Hill Institute at Suffolk University;
• The rules’ effects on reducing the supply of inexpensive electricity production will increase electricity prices by 18%, cost 5,170 jobs, and reduce real disposable income by $578 million, according to the report.
According to Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing, all of this economic harm amounts to “all pain and no gain” since EPA administrator Gina McCarthy, in September 2013 testimony before a House committee, conceded that the agency’s climate-change regulatory regime would not affect the climate because the preponderance of current and future greenhouse-gas emissions originate in Asia.
“Of course,” argued Gessing, “The pain of dramatically-increased electricity costs will further hinder New Mexico’s already anemic economy while having real-world impacts on the thousands of hard-working taxpayers who are destined to lose their jobs under this misguided proposal.”
With PNM already looking for a 12 percent rate hike and many of New Mexico’s utilities looking to increase their “renewable” portfolios from 15 to 20 percent by 2020 to comply with New Mexico’s “renewable portfolio standard,” the price of electricity in the Land of Enchantment has already risen dramatically in recent years (as seen in the chart below) and is likely to rise dramatically in the years ahead.
Check out this new video outlining the serious issues facing the Obama Administration's plan:
Today in the House Business and Employment Committee, HB 75 which would make New Mexico the 25th state in the nation to adopt "right to work" legislation, passed with bi-partisan support. Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing provided expert testimony which can be seen below. Next up is House Judiciary Committee:
Thank you for the opportunity to testify on the issue of whether to make New Mexico a “right to work” state. I believe that this is the most important single issue being addressed during the 2015 legislative session and I am pleased to be here.
Before I get started telling you what “right to work” is, I’d like to share with you what it is not.
“Right to Work” is not anti-union. Such laws simply restore individual choice over whether to join or not join a labor union. Moreover, federal law does not obligate unions to represent non-members. The National Labor Relations Act allows unions to sign “members’ only” contracts that apply only to dues-paying members. In 1938, the Supreme Court expressly upheld union’s ability to negotiate only on behalf of members. As William Gould, chairman of the NLRB under President Clinton, wrote, “the law now permits members-only bargaining for employees” — unions can exclude non-members from their contracts.
The second thing that “right to work” is not is that it is not an economic panacea. Supporters of the law hope that by adopting such a law New Mexico will be more economically-competitive. There is ample data to show that businesses, especially those providing high-paying jobs for skilled workers, tend to locate new facilities in “right to work” states far more often than they do in non-RTW states.
The Rio Grande Foundation is hosting a reception with Grover Norquist of Americans for Tax Reform from 6:30pm to 8:00pm on Thursday, February 5th at the Marriott Pyramid.
Entrance to the reception is $15 per-person which includes light appetizers and a cash bar.
Grover Norquist is president of Americans for Tax Reform (ATR), a taxpayer advocacy group he founded in 1985 at President Reagan's request. ATR works to limit the size and cost of government and opposes higher taxes at the federal, state, and local levels and supports tax reform that moves towards taxing consumed income one time at one rate.
ATR organizes the Taxpayer Protection Pledge, which asks all candidates for federal and state office to commit themselves in writing to the American people to oppose all tax increases. In the 113th Congress, 219 House members and 41 Senators have taken the pledge. On the state level, 14 governors and 1,035 state legislators have taken the pledge.
Norquist chairs the Washington, DC-based "Wednesday Meeting," a weekly gathering of more than 150 elected officials, political activists, and movement leaders. The meeting started in 1993 and takes place in ATR's conference room. There are now 60 similar "center-right" meetings in 48 states (including New Mexico).
Arianna Huffington calls Norquist "The dark wizard of the Right's anti-tax cult."
According to John Stossel, "No one in modern times has fought harder to shrink the state than the founder of the group Americans for Tax Reform."
In the words of Newt Gingrich, Grover Norquist is "the person who I regard as the most innovative, creative, courageous and entrepreneurial leader of the anti-tax efforts and of conservative grassroots activism in America ... he has truly made a difference and truly changed American history."
P.J. O'Rourke says "Grover Norquist is Tom Paine crossed with Lee Atwater plus just a soupçon of Madame Defarge."
Senator Mitch McConnell says, "It's because of soldiers like Grover that the conservative movement is so vibrant today and that the liberals who thought they had taken over two years ago are on the run."
Politico describes Grover as "the high priest of anti-tax orthodoxy who's convinced nearly every elected Republican to sign a pledge not to raise taxes."
The Hill named Grover one of the Top Grassroots Lobbyists of 2014 saying, "They say nothing is certain but death and taxes. In Washington, the third certainty is Norquist trying to kill the second."
Mr. Norquist holds a Masters of Business Administration and a Bachelor of Arts in Economics, both from Harvard University. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife, Samah, and his daughters, Grace and Giselle.
A freedom outlook for New Mexico’s 2015 legislative session
Posted By Paul Gessing On January 20, 2015 @ 1:13 pm
By Paul Gessing | Watchdog Opinion
The 2014 elections represented nothing less than a seismic shift in New Mexico’s political system. Gov. Martinez won re-election handily, but the real story was the Republican takeover of the House of Representatives for the first time in 62 years.
For New Mexico, this political shift is nothing less than a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to improve itself. New Mexico has traditionally struggled with high poverty rates, poor education levels, and an over-reliance on both federal spending and mercurial commodity prices, particularly oil and natural gas.
In recent years, oil and gas alone have generated 31 percent of New Mexico’s General Fund revenues. Also, according to data from the Mercatus Center, New Mexico topped the nation with 32 percent of its workforce occupied in public-sector and federal-contract jobs as a percentage of total jobs.
With federal employment stagnant, natural gas prices continuing to hover at historically-low levels and the recent collapse in oil and gas prices, policymakers in the Land of Enchantment face a dire need to jump-start the State’s weak private sector. An indicator of that weakness is that New Mexico is home to only one publicly-traded company headquarters, those of PNM, the State’s largest utility.
What is to be done?
For starters, the Legislature is going to be considering several labor reforms, most notably “right to work” legislation. Currently, 24 states have such laws on the books. These laws simply prohibit union membership or the payment of union dues as a condition of employment. Recently, “rust-belt” states of Indiana and Michigan have adopted similar laws.
New Mexico’s Senate majority leader – arguably the most powerful elected Democrat in the State – recently laid out some of his views on the upcoming legislative session. He claimed to support “compromise,” but it is clear that what he really means is that he has no plans to support reforms that will boost New Mexico’s struggling private- sector economy.
Sen. Michael Sanchez’s intransigence is not surprising given that he and his allies have controlled New Mexico’s Legislature for many decades and (likely see the new House Republican majority) as a temporary loosening of control as opposed to a decisive break. That big-government ideology, by the way, has driven New Mexico to the bottom of most good lists and the top of most bad ones.
Sanchez, despite his rhetoric of compromise, has stated firmly that he opposes “right to work.” On the other hand, he supports a new $50 million “closing fund” designed to bring new businesses to our state.