(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation has updated its legislation-tracking tool, a website called: www.NewMexicoVotes.org. The website includes votes and bills introduced dating from 2008 through the 2012 legislative session.
RGF launched the site in order to provide a more transparent window for New Mexicans to follow what happens in state government. The site is free and open to the public.
With plain English bill information for each legislator (as opposed to being in legalese and grouped by bill number in an unalterable pdf format), links that show everyone who has donated to each legislator and the amount of each donation, and a whole host of additional features, those who want to track what happens in Santa Fe will find New Mexico Votes particularly useful.
Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, said of the public service, “‘Votes’ is part of our organization’s efforts to bring more transparency and accountability to New Mexico state government. While the Legislature has made great strides in recent years, a constituent looking for information on votes by their legislator will have a much easier time with our site than with the Legislature’s site.”
Continued Gessing, “We want everyone to be able to find out, with a few clicks of a mouse, what his or her legislator is doing, to be able to sign on and read plain English descriptions of what each bill does in a way that the average person can understand, and know immediately what our tax money is being spent on, or whether the bill increases or decreases taxation, regulation, or government transparency.”
It’s free money! That’s the line used by actor Jimmy Fallon in a series of credit card commercials. It is also the line increasingly being used by advocates of Medicaid expansion here in New Mexico and across the nation.
After all, who but a bunch of anti-social, uncaring, right wing conservatives could possibly turn down “free” money?
The answer is that anyone with even the most cursory knowledge of economics knows that there is no such thing as a free lunch or “free” money. Even barring that first-semester ECON 101 lesson, in this case the money doesn’t stay “free” forever. New Mexico taxpayers will be on the hook for hundreds of millions of additional dollars in Medicaid spending if they accept this money. Lastly, since when does Congress keep its promises?
Mayor Berry is a great guy and I love his vision for Albuquerque, but I think the Railyards redevelopment may be an overreach. Unfortunately, Mayor Marty already put us (taxpayers) on the hook for $8.5 million. Mayor Berry is looking for ways to use the property, but problems abound and it would seem that taxpayers might have higher priorities than what could be a costly redevelopment with an unclear vision in mind.
I discussed some of the issues with KRQE Channel 13 on last night's 10pm newscast.
The Rio Grande Foundation and Drug Policy Alliance recently hosted a briefing for candidates on criminal justice issues including civil asset forfeiture. Marc Levin of the Texas Public Policy Foundation and Right on Crime made the following remarks:
Summer vacations may be in full-swing for many, but the upcoming week will be an extremely busy one for the Rio Grande Foundation.
This Tuesday, July 17, Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing will be speaking to the Albuquerque Tea Party's meeting. The meeting will last from 7:00-9:00pm and is held at East Gate Church at 12120 Copper Avenue, NE, in Albuquerque.
Gessing will be discussing the recent US Supreme Court ruling on Obamacare and how this will/can effect the upcoming General Election and what average citizens can do in response.
On Wednesday, July 18, The Libre Initiative and Rio Grande Foundation present:
LIBRE ON THE ROCKS!
From 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at The Apothecary Lounge Rooftop Patio at Hotel Parq Central which is located at: 806 Central Ave, SE in Albuquerque.
Come join us for a unique opportunity to gather in an informal setting, share drinks, food and conversation, and celebrate liberty and freedom. Light appetizers and non-alcoholic beverages will be provided. Happy Hour special will be available during the event!
Lastly, join us this Thursday, July 19, from 4:30 - 6:30 pm at the MCM Elegante Hotel, Albuquerque for the New Mexico Business and Social Hour sponsored by the New Mexico Business Coalition.
The Rio Grande Foundation is pleased to send out the following message in support of the New Mexico Business Coalition’s “Business and Social Hour.” In addition to the agenda outlined below, Foundation President Paul Gessing will briefly address the meeting on the topic of the Foundation’s new report “Right-to-Work and Economic Growth.”
The New Mexico Business Coalition (NMBC) is pleased to invite you to a BASH (Business and Social Hour) on July 19th!
We will also have a presentation by journalist turned media analyst, Mark Mathis. Mark studied our use of oil for ten years and what he found shocked him so much he made a movie called 'spOILed'.
The oil and gas industry is a key economic driver in New Mexico which frequently leads to debate among policymakers and voters. Mark's comments on what he believes is misinformation, distortions, and outright lies about the industry are sure to generate some great discussion! Be a part of that discussion on July 19th!
Introductions of elected, appointed and those running for office begin at 5:10 pm. Limited Seating, RSVP today
The Rio Grande Foundation cordially invites you to participate in this year's Friedman Legacy for Freedom Day. This annual, international event provides fans of Milton Friedman and lovers of liberty the opportunity to learn about the late Nobel laureate, to share his ideas, and to celebrate the impact they had on our country and the world.
The Rio Grande Foundation will be showing some of Milton Friedman's "Greatest Hits." Interviews and discussions involving Dr. Friedman that are still relevant to today's economic and political situations. Discussion to follow.
There is no charge for this event!
Tuesday, July 31, 2012
6:00PM – 7:30PM
The Albuquerque Museum (Art Museum)
2000 Mountain Road NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104
RSVP to: rsvp [at] riograndefoundation [dot] org or call: 505-264-6090
It’s always nice when New Mexico receives positive national recognition. Our state appears at the bottom of all-too-many good lists and at the top of all too many bad ones.
So, it is nice that the magazine Forbes saw fit to include Albuquerque and Las Cruces in its list of 25 Best Places To Retire at 25 and 10 respectively. Our sunny weather, mountain views, and low taxes on retirees were cited among the positives these two cities had to offer.
It’s nice anytime New Mexico is recognized for good things in national reports. Unfortunately, retirees do not drive economic growth. What does drive economic growth is entrepreneurs starting businesses and hiring people to work at them. Retirees are largely consumers of goods and services. Some of them volunteer and many of them contribute in important ways to their communities, but few of them by definition are starting businesses.
Why does New Mexico attract retirees, but not businesses (no Fortune 500 company is headquartered within our borders)? For starters, our overall tax burden is relatively high (14th in the nation as a portion of personal income according to the Federation of Tax Administrators). More money in government’s coffers often means less to start or operate a business.
Of course, a relatively heavy tax burden does not impact everyone equally. Our state’s tax code is also set up to protect wealth, not the creation of wealth. According to the Tax Foundation, property taxes generate the second-lowest percentage of overall revenue among the states. I am not saying that high property taxes don’t stifle economic growth or that we should raise property taxes, rather this data is meant to explain why New Mexico is popular with retirees while remaining economically impoverished.
While our property taxes are low, our “sales tax,” which is properly known as the gross receipts tax, taxes a variety of business inputs and services that are left untaxed in other states. These include payments to lawyers and contractors that are often a necessary part of small businesses. Gov. Martinez and the Legislature took steps to mitigate this situation earlier this year, but a more thorough discussion of tax reform is needed.
Not satisfied with taxing those who wish to start businesses and generate wealth, New Mexico also regulates them quite heavily. According to the Institute for Justice’s report “License to Work” which grades states on their regulatory requirements to engage in productive economic behavior, New Mexico “is the ninth most broadly and onerously licensed state with the 12th most burdensome licensing laws.”
It is worth mentioning that a high quality educational system can assist in the creation of an educated workforce which also leads to the creation of businesses and economic growth. The poor performance of New Mexico’s K-12 system has been known for years and Gov. Martinez has made reform a top priority.
Recently, several critiques including those from the Rio Grande Foundation and the US Chamber of Commerce have highlighted problems in higher education. An improved higher education system is also necessary to generate future business leaders.
When policymakers consider ways to make New Mexico wealthier while it remains an attractive retirement destination, it is important to realize that there needn’t be a tradeoff between the two. For example, 21 of the top 25 retirement destinations (including all of the top five) are “Right to Work” states. This policy reform increases productivity and labor market flexibility, making a given state more attractive to small and big businesses alike.
Appearing on a “good” list is nice and we welcome retirees to New Mexico with open arms and encourage them to stay. To make New Mexico truly prosperous, however, we need to enact policy reforms targeted at growing our economy.
Paul Gessing is the President of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, non-partisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility.
(Albuquerque) In early June, the Rio Grande Foundation published a report “How Transparent Are New Mexico’s Institutes of Higher Education?” which published payroll data for New Mexico’s institutes of higher education. This report also included links to payroll data from all of the institutes that complied with our requests.
One of the institutes, Northern New Mexico College, that received an “F” in our original report has complied fully with our request and will receive a revised grade of “A.” The school’s website now includes the following website: http://site.nnmc.edu/public-records which includes all relevant information for submitting a records request. The payroll records themselves are now available here.
Said Paul Gessing, President of the Rio Grande Foundation, “Our original efforts to obtain public records from Northern New Mexico College, were frustrated due to inability to find a contact for such requests on their website. This may have been our fault in not looking in the right place, their fault in terms of broken links or poor website design, or some combination of the two.”
Gessing continued, “We are pleased that Northern New Mexico Community College has responded to our critique and has made great strides in transparency with a clearly-listed point of contact and a timely response in terms of the information requested. We hope that all institutes that received a low grade in our report will follow suit.”