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.”
The New Mexico Public Employees Retirement Association is considering reducing future retirement benefits for more than 54,000 government workers, mostly because of growing concerns about the solvency of the fund.
It’s about time. The main reason why so many state and local governments are bankrupt, or on the verge of bankruptcy, is the combination of government-run monopolies and government-employee unions.
Government-employee unions have vastly more power than do private-sector unions because the entities they work for are typically monopolies. As reported, the unfunded liability of the PERA fund has more than doubled in the past two years, from $2.3 billion in mid-2009 to $4.9 billion as of mid-2011. The unfunded liability is the difference between future retirement benefits due and assets on hand.
Carter Bundy, the political director for the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees union, is on record as saying, “the union believes the base retirement formula used to determine a worker’s pension should not be altered.” To that I say, the economics of the world have been altered, if Bundy hasn’t noticed.
There is a huge difference between private- and public-sector union employees. For example, when the employees of a grocery story go on strike and shut down the store, consumers can simply shop elsewhere and grocery-store management is perfectly free to hire replacement workers.
In contrast, when a city goes on strike, there is no school and no garbage collection as long as the strike goes on. Teacher tenure and civil service regulations make it extremely costly if not virtually impossible to hire replacement workers. The enormous power of government-employee unions effectively transfers the power to tax from voters to the unions. Because government-employee unions can so easily force elected officials to raise taxes to meet their “demands,” it is they, not the voters, who control the rate of taxation within a political jurisdiction.
Politicians are caught in a political bind by government-employee unions: If they cave in to their wage demands and raise taxes to finance them, then they increase the chances of being kicked out of office themselves in the next election. The “solution” to this dilemma has been to offer government-employee unions moderate wage increases but spectacular pension promises. This allows politicians to pander to the unions but defer the costs to the future.
As taxpayers in New Mexico are realizing, the future has arrived. The PERA fund has $16.8 billion in future obligations and $11.9 billion on hand as of the most recent calculation. New Mexico must either raise taxes dramatically to fund these liabilities, or drastically cut back or eliminate government-employee pensions.
Government-employee unions are also champions of “featherbedding” – the union practice of forcing employers to hire more than the number of people necessary to do the job. If this occurs in the private sector, the higher wage costs will make the firm less competitive and less profitable.
No such thing happens in government, where there are not profit-and-loss statements in an accounting sense, and most agencies are monopolies anyway.
In 2012, as we have witnessed Scott Walker not being recalled as governor in Wisconsin because of his tough stance on public-employee unions, this pension charade appears to be on its way to being over.
American taxpayers finally seem to be aware that they are the servants, not the masters, of government at all levels. Government-employee unions have played a key role in causing bankruptcy in most American states. We, in New Mexico, are at a crucial decision-point to decide not to travel that road to financial ruination and say “no more” to the pension demands of destructive public-employee unions.
Tom Molitor is adjunct scholar with 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) According to recent stories in the press, New Mexico’s largest public employee union, the American Federation of State, County, and Municipal Employees Council 18, has filed a lawsuit in state District Court attempting to compel the Martinez Administration to remove the names and salary information of the state’s “classified” workers from New Mexico’s “Sunshine Portal”: http://sunshineportalnm.com/
The Rio Grande Foundation strongly favors transparency and openness when taxpayer dollars are at stake and has requested and posted the state payroll – including names and salaries of all state employees – on its website. The data are presented by month, starting with January and going through June of 2012.
“Unfortunately,” as Rio Grande Foundation President Paul Gessing pointed out, “while we are able to post the information ourselves as the state payroll is indeed public information, the biggest issue is that outside of the Sunshine Portal, information is not presented in a clear and concise manner. So, if AFSCME somehow wins their lawsuit, they are in no way preserving their members’ privacy, rather they are just making it more difficult for average citizens to actually understand what the data actually mean”
“The Sunshine Portal is the ideal way to post public records and documents. Efforts should be focused on expanding and improving upon the site, not restricting what information can be made available on it,” concluded Gessing.
Jonah Goldberg spoke in Albuquerque on his new book "Tyranny of Cliches: How Liberals Cheat in the War of Ideas" and the 2012 elections. We had another sellout crowd in attendance and a great time. Video of Jonah's speech can be found below. For those who couldn't make it or would like a copy of Jonah's book, the Rio Grande Foundation has a limited supply of signed copies. Call us at: 505-264-6090 for details.