In recent months, the University of New Mexico Hospital (UNMH) has proposed building a $146 million expansion. In our view there should be specific criteria on the use of taxpayer money for new construction. UNMH should meet these criteria which include: Does the public want it and, in a world of limited resources, is the proposed project our highest priority?
To find out whether BernalilloCounty voters share our concerns about the proposed hospital expansion, we asked them and found that voters don’t think the hospital is a top priority and that they do want more accountability when major projects like this are considered.
According to the Utah polling firm NSON, only 15% of the registered voters in BernalilloCounty would make the building of a new hospital a priority. The public’s main priority, with 46% support, was to have more health clinics for the poor throughout the County. Even a new psychiatric hospital with behavioral health services got more support, at 16%, than the building of a new hospital. Still others wanted drug and alcohol rehabilitation services (10%). The poll was conducted January 13-16 with 400 registered voters in BernalilloCounty with a margin of error of 4.9%.
Check out our ad below. Interestingly enough, the front page of the Albuquerque Journal included a story about how University of New Mexico is being forced to come up with as much as $780,000 in additional funding to pay for the increase.
The Rio Grande Foundation recently completed a report in which it analyzed dozens of state regulations that are holding back our economy and need to be eliminated or reformed. The need for deregulation has never been more apparent with our economy losing jobs and seeing an outflow of workers (according to a recent report from United Van Lines).
Unlike many issues in Santa Fe, deregulation has not historically been a partisan issue. At the federal level, President Jimmy Carter deregulated trucking, freight rail and airlines to positive effect in the 1970s. President Reagan continued those efforts in ways that led to significant economic growth throughout the 1980s.
To further illustrate the point that deregulation can and should be bipartisan, we are pleased to see that Think New Mexico has embraced the concept of deregulation, at least insofar as motor carriers here in New Mexico are concerned.
(Albuquerque) The Rio Grande Foundation has launched a new legislative tracking tool called “Freedom Index,” which provides a daily review of legislation impacting economic freedom in the state.
For the first time, lawmakers will be able to get an independent, free market view of legislation pending before the Legislature. Moreover, voters can see whether their legislators are voting for free markets or for bigger government. Users will be able to see:
• The relative voting performance of legislators according to the Freedom Index;
• The relative voting performance of each party according to the Freedom Index;
• The analysis criteria behind the legislation ranking will be made publicly-available for download; • Links to legislation detail;
• Links to legislator Information, including contact information;
• And selections of legislation by relevant categories.
The Freedom Index is available here Our analysis will be available before final votes on those bills that are analyzed and can be used by both legislators, legislative staff and interested voters to debate the merits of a bill. In short, the Index provides an excellent analysis of bills that will come before committees or a vote on the floor as well as tracking a legislator’s Freedom Index score.
The public will find our Freedom Index to be a tool to hold elected officials accountable for their vote and to gain a better understanding of the legislation being proposed by the House or Senate members. Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing said of his organization’s new legislative tracking web site, “We are thrilled to add the freedom perspective to the legislative process in Santa Fe. For too long, the special interests have run wild with the voice of taxpayers and those who pay the bills too often pushed to the side.”
If you haven't already heard, recent media reports have found that 70% of New Mexico births are funded by Medicaid. Some, including former New Mexico Senator Dede Feldman don't seem to think this is a problem.
Needless to say, there are indeed many issues with this high level of welfare dependency in New Mexico. My commentary for KUNM 89.9FM can be heard on the radio starting today and at this link.
(Albuquerque) In an effort to improve government transparency throughout New Mexico, the Rio Grande Foundation has requested and published payroll data for the 35 largest cities throughout New Mexico and all 33 counties in the state.
Some cities including Albuquerque and Rio Rancho post payroll information online. Bernalillo County also posts salary data on its website. However, few city website has a comprehensive listing of payroll data from New Mexico cities and counties. Find city data here and county data here.
Said Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing of his organization’s role in releasing the data, “Taxpayers are the ultimate ‘bosses’ of government workers and should have access to this data. Government is the only ‘business’ in which the boss often doesn’t have access to the company payroll.”
Under New Mexico law, employee salary data is already public information, available on request from the county or city government. Now, thanks to legislation passed during the 2011 legislative session, this and other data must be made available in a format preferred by the requestor.
Unfortunately, being required to comply with a request and actual compliance are not the same thing. All counties complied with our requests, but several cities including Bernalillo, Las Vegas, and Roswell failed to comply.
Responding to the most likely critique of having this information online, Gessing said, “Having salary information online is not a privacy threat. The Rio Grande Foundation has had similar information posted for cities, counties, and institutions of higher education online for years and we have not heard any specific complaints.”
“We at the Rio Grande Foundation believe strongly that transparency and openness are keys to achieving a more limited, fiscally-responsible government. Information on who is hired to do what and how much they are being paid is information that must be available and accessible to the public” said Gessing.