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Economy Film Subsidies Legislature Notable News Tax and Budget Taxes Top Issues

Lights, Camera…Tax Breaks? Why Film Subsidies and Other Corporate Welfare Boondoggles Are a Bad Idea for New Mexican Taxpayers

Due to the COVID19 pandemic, the filming of movies and television shows has ground to a halt in New Mexico and around the country. While aspects of the pandemic are devastating to our economy, the shutdown of film is not one of them. That’s because of the outrageous subsidies the State provides Hollywood filmmakers.

In 2019 the Legislature more than doubled the tax subsidy program from $50 million to $110 million. This subsidy expansion would have a massive, negative impact on the State’s budget, especially now that the economic boom of the past few years ended with COVID.

New Mexico is a poor State. Budget cuts and tax hikes will be on the agenda when the Legislature meets in 2021. So, why should taxpayers subsidize Hollywood which grosses $10 billion annually in the U.S., while yearly global box office revenue for American movies nears $38 billion. Yet its profit margins are fattened by American taxpayers, who provide over $1.4 billion in annual subsidies to filmmakers.

Film subsidies are justified by claims that filmmaking will bring jobs and provide money for the local economy. The prestige of having your state’s locations and scenery featured in a popular film plays a role, too—yet, as with sports franchises, the concrete economic benefits generally prove to be elusive.

Today, New Mexico offers some of the nation’s most generous film subsidies, including a 25% tax credit for movies, a 30% tax credit for TV shows, plus a 5 % rebate for resident crew wages if the filming is shot over at least 10 days at qualified facilities (or 15 days if the budget is over $30 million). But these movie-luring investments are nearly always economic flops.

A 2014 Albuquerque Journal article reported that film production in the state had “provided thousands of jobs and generated $1.5 billion in total economic output [from 2010-2014], but film production activity—both movies and TV shows—generated an estimated 43 cents in tax revenue for every incentive dollar spent by the state between 2010-2014.” So, the state lost more than half its investment in movie-making subsidies.

Jim Wisnewski, one of Albuquerque’s more colorful casting agents, had nothing but praise for the role of film and television subsidies in his state:

We say bring it on, it’s great for New Mexico. Throw that state money at Hollywood—bring ‘em in. When they come, they have to spend money in the state, renting cars and hotels, eating at restaurants, and that’s all revenue for us, isn’t it? In fact, we’re proposing a studio be built on the border between New Mexico and Colorado so that those guys can take the 30% tax rebate from New Mexico and the 20% tax rebate from Colorado. They could get back 50% of their taxes that way.

This may seem humorous, but there is nothing funny about taxpayers footing the bill for films the networks are going to film anyway. With New Mexico again facing budget cuts (after having already made some in the recent special session), taxpayer dollars should not be diverted to rich Hollywood film companies.

For many decades, too many of our government’s policies have taken wealth from taxpayers of modest means and provided a big chunk of it to the rich. The same perverse policies are in place today, and there is every reason to believe that they’ll remain in place for the foreseeable future—unless we act as citizens to demand change.

While today’s politicians—especially those vying for the presidential contest in 2020—are proposing ways that the government should act to reduce income and wealth inequality, we ask, at the least, that the government stop making inequality worse.

This is one area of economic policy that the vast majority of Americans of all political persuasions agree on. Liberal or conservative, socialist-leaning or libertarian, Republican, Democratic, or independent—practically everyone will acknowledge the absurdity of having government take from the poor and the middle class to give to the rich.

Yet that’s exactly what happens, every day, in many ways, large and small. New Mexico taxpayers would be well served if their legislature cut such gifts to the rich from their budgets, starting with these ridiculous film subsidies.

*Phil Harvey and Lisa Conyers are co-authors of “Welfare for the Rich,” a new book that was published on August 4, 2020. For more information, go to www.welfarefortherich.com
and @PostHillPress

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Economy Legislature Notable News Open Government Top Issues

New Mexicans opt out of forced unionism

The following appeared on the Las Cruces Sun News website on August 15, 2020.

Las Cruces Sun-News Obituaries - Las Cruces, NM | Las Cruces Sun-News

With New Mexico still in the throes of COVID19 it is easy to forget about other major public policy issues affecting the State and its economy.

Just over two years ago, in the Janus v. AFSCME decision, the US Supreme Court ruled that working for state or local government should not come with a requirement that those employees hand over a portion of their hard-earned money to unions with whom they often disagree. In the time since the decision, many government workers in New Mexico have exercised these rights by leaving their unions in droves.

In a series of public records requests, the Rio Grande Foundation has found that that more than half of state employees – 54% – have left their union. Our survey of schools, cities and counties around New Mexico show that thousands of other public workers have decided to leave their unions as well.

In working with the national advocacy effort My Pay, My Say, which is working across a large number of states (nearly half of states saw public employees receive the freedom to opt-out), New Mexico’s drop among state employees is the largest we have seen.

Our campaign telling New Mexicans about their first amendment right to leave their unions has reached tens of thousands of public employees all across the state with thousands of them engaging with the advertising and many ultimately choosing to stop paying dues.

The Rio Grande Foundation has long supported worker freedom in New Mexico. We share President Franklin Roosevelt’s contention that, “the process of collective bargaining as usually understood cannot be transplanted into the public service.” And we were thrilled when the court upheld the First Amendment rights for workers to choose – or choose not – to belong to labor unions.

Public sector bargaining is problematic. Unlike in the private sector, taxpayers are ultimately subsidizing both sides of the bargaining table – the government employer and the government union.

Recently, many on the left have come to realize these issues as well – at least when it comes to police unions. Many of the protections given to unionized police officers are not in the best interests of accountable policing and equitable criminal justice policies. We welcome them to the newfound realization that government employee unions often stand in the way of holding “public servants” accountable for their actions.

But this new skepticism of unions – over their political advocacy and problematic contracts – should apply across all areas of government, including at the state, local and in K-12 education. In fact, problems with government employee unions in the education bureaucracy, like unionized law enforcement bureaucracies, have disproportionate, negative impacts on poor and minority populations.

Allowing government employees to opt out of their unions is a good step towards holding unions accountable. It forces them to be more accountable to those they “represent” and it takes away one of the special favors typically granted to unions by state and local government.

Once Janus v. AFSCME gave workers the choice, large numbers of them decided that unions didn’t do a good job representing their interests. Some opt out for broader political reasons; others simply don’t feel the dues are worth it and still more are perhaps concerned by the lack of accountability in government that has been driven by the unions for decades. Whatever the reason, we’ll continue making sure government employees know their rights.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility

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Education Legislature Notable News Top Issues

Expanding New Mexico state pre-K would be a costly mistake

The following appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on August 10, 2020:

The Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) recently released a study of the “inaugural cohort” of the state’s pre-K program, concluding that “prekindergarten remains a cost-effective way to improve student outcomes.” But the LFC’s own data shows that expanding pre-K would instead be a costly mistake.

The LFC’s study cites “statistically significant” improvements in children’s outcomes, which in real life are essentially meaningless. Children who attended pre-K scored barely higher on the six kindergarten-entry readiness domains measured — just a couple of percentage points at most. In the crucial areas of literacy and mathematics, only about 60% were kindergarten-ready, whether they attended pre-K or not.

Differences in third-grade PARCC proficiencies, too, were tiny. Almost three-quarters of both pre-K and non-pre-K groups failed to meet third-grade PARCC proficiency in English: 70.3% of pre-K attendees and 71.9% of non-attendees. Roughly two-thirds of both groups failed to meet standards in math: 65.9% of children who went to pre-K compared to 68.1% of children who did not.

If pre-K were affecting children’s achievement, New Mexico’s National Assessment of Education Progress (NAEP) scores would be rising as pre-K attendance goes up. From 2011 to 2019, however, while the percentage of fourth-graders who had attended pre-K almost tripled, the percentage scoring at or above Basic on the NAEP reading exam remained precisely the same at 53%. In math, that percentage actually declined from 75% to 72%.

The largest outcome differences the LFC reports are for chronic absence — missing over 10% of school — and high school graduation within four years. Twelve percent of children who went to pre-K were chronically absent compared to 16% of those who did not attend. Eighty percent of the 1,540 students in the inaugural pre-K cohort graduated within four years compared to 74% of the roughly 25,000 students who had not gone to pre-K 14 years prior.

Both these differences are likely caused by parents, though, not by children starting school when they’re 4 instead of 5. Parents who voluntarily send their 4-year-old to school for an entire year also probably try harder to make sure their child attends school regularly and graduates on time.

That is, children who attend pre-K have exactly the parents most likely to ensure their success throughout schooling. And the influence of a child’s parents greatly outweighs a single year of school, whether that’s pre-K or fifth grade.

Finally, the LFC study concludes that pre-K is a cost-effective use of taxpayer dollars. But compared to what? “Cost effectiveness” means comparing various programs to determine which yield the biggest results for the same expenditure of limited resources.

Policymakers can’t decide if spending $100 on Program X makes sense if they only know it yields an eventual benefit of $106. How does $106 compare to the benefit of spending $100 on other programs with the same goal? In the case of improving school achievement, the LFC itself has identified approaches far more effective than pre-K.

In a 2017 study, the LFC found that teacher quality had the “most impact on a student’s academic achievement” of all school-related factors, reporting positive effects which were orders of magnitude larger than any associated with pre-K. Children’s PARCC scores in math and reading varied by up to 49 percentage points over three years, depending on whether they had effective or ineffective teachers. Low-performing schools that participated in “Teachers Pursuing Excellence” peer mentoring increased the percentage of students scoring at proficient or above on the PARCC exam from 24% to 35% in reading and 16% to 27% in math, over just two years.

Policymakers should be seeking the most effective use of resources to improve student outcomes and help children who need help the most. Based on the LFC’s recent study, adding a pre-K grade to the public schools seems like more of a “cost-effective way” to rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic.

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Economy Education Legislature Notable News Top Issues

My family will home school this fall. Other families should have options as well.

The following opinion piece appeared in the Las Cruces Sun-News on Sunday, July 26, 2020:

As the head of New Mexico’s free market think tank and a frequent critic of New Mexico’s K-12 system, many are surprised to hear that my two school-age children have been in traditional public schools throughout their educational careers. That will change this fall due to COVID 19 and the policies being imposed by the State. According to numerous reports, parents across our nation are doing the same.

This crisis and our response to it is an opportunity for policymakers to reconsider how education works in the State of New Mexico. As a reminder, New Mexico has perpetually found itself among the lowest-performing education systems in the nation. Innovative thinking, especially policies that redirect funding to students as opposed to bureaucracies, could have positive impacts now and in the future.

While we at the Rio Grande Foundation are often critical of the powers that be in New Mexico education policy, this is not the case regarding COVID 19 and the reopening plans. In fact, our usual criticism is a systemic one and that is the situation here. The idea that one model of schooling makes sense for all students in normal times is faulty. Now, with such widely-variable views on COVID 19 and the appropriate response to it (not to mention the different educational needs for students of different ages and abilities) developing solutions that satisfy everyone is impossible.

For my family with elementary school aged children, the combination of mask wearing throughout the day and “social distancing” being imposed was a deal-breaker. And, while I support “virtual” or “hybrid” learning for some children, I simply don’t think the schools or educators are ready to deploy them on a large scale in an effective manner. We saw this firsthand in spring when the schools suddenly shut down.

Hopefully, school systems have better plans in place now, but the situation remains fluid and chaotic. New Mexico students are already behind due to lost months at the end of last school year. The chaos of masks in the classroom and a hybrid/virtual model that is completely new and unfamiliar to many students and teachers is not likely to lead to improved outcomes.

That is not just unfortunate: it is tragic.

My family is blessed. We can make home schooling work and we’ve already spent considerable time preparing for this big change. Unfortunately, that is not the case for all New Mexico families, especially low-income and minority families.

The COVID 19 situation leaves no “easy” choices, but with so many New Mexicans looking for educational options or even taking on the task of educating their own children, shouldn’t the tax dollars they pay into the system follow the child? Shouldn’t parents have resources made available to purchase computers and other curriculum materials for their children or, if they prefer, shouldn’t they be able to send their child to the school of their own choice? All of these choices involve major time and financial sacrifices by parents in tough economic times. Rather than penalizing these families, we believe the funding should follow the child and help them directly.

South Carolina’s Governor just announced the state will use $32 million to fund low-income families directly this fall. The scholarships are worth up to $6,500 each. These are the solutions that should be happening in New Mexico. Families are paying taxes for a school system that in times of “normalcy” is considered “inadequate” (Yazzie lawsuit). With many limitations and adjustments being made now, that system and the families it serves now face greater challenges than ever before.

I truly feel for our children who have lost so much already. The Legislature and Governor have long claimed to care for our children. It is time to call their bluff and fund children, not bureaucracies.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility

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Education Legislature Notable News Research Top Issues

New RGF brief debunks LFC report on pre-K: Why Expanding New Mexico State Pre-K Won’t Help the Children Who Need Help the Most

Today’s Albuquerque Journalcontained a report which discussed in glowing terms New Mexico’s expansion of pre-K programs. The reality is not nearly so compelling as Katharine Stevens argues in her new policy brief “Why Expanding New Mexico State Pre-K Won’t Help the Children Who Need Help the Most.”

The question of how to expand “early childhood” programs in New Mexico has long been one of the most contentious public policy issues in the state. Recently, the Legislative Finance Committee produced a new report “Prekindergarten Quality and Educational Outcomes,”The report makes multiple positive claims about the effectiveness of pre-K that Katharine Stevens addresses in her new policy brief, “Why Expanding New Mexico State Pre-K Won’t Help the Children Who Need Help the Most.”

In her brief, Stevens discusses several, glaring flaws in the LFC report.

  • Correlation vs. Causation:The LFC report assumes that improved results among students who participated in pre-K programs is the result of those programs. The reality is that participation is voluntary and motivated parents are the ones who will enroll their children in such programs and take the time to ensure they get to school every day. It is no surprise that parents who value the program the most have children who perform better than average.
  • Failure to ConsiderRigorous, Randomized Studies of Pre-K Programs: One of the serious challenges of social science is the relative lack of randomized control groups. There are, however, two important studies of pre-K that use randomized control groups (unlike the LFC or other New Mexico reports). One such study cited by Stevens is from Tennessee and another involved Head Start.

New Mexico has dramatically expanded pre-K spending over the last decade, which provides the opportunity to add to the evidence on pre-K’s effect on academic achievement. Stevens notes, however, that even as New Mexico has invested hundreds of millions of dollars into pre-K its test scores on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) have remained stagnant.  

  • Finally, the LFC misuses the concept of Cost-Effectiveness. In public policy, Stevens writes, “cost effectiveness does not mean showing that the benefit of an intervention outweighs the cost. It means comparing various interventions to determine which ones yield the greatest benefit for resources spent to accomplish a particular policy goal.”

As Stevens concludes: “The fight for pre-K, however well intended, is the wrong fight for children who need our help the most. If New Mexico’s goal is to expand the school system and provide free pre- school to wealthier parents who otherwise have to pay for it, adding a pre-K grade to the public schools makes perfect sense. If the state’s goal is to improve the life chances of the most disadvantaged children, however, it is a deeply misguided approach.”

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Education Legislature Notable News Top Issues

COVID-19 must spur long-overdue reform to NM education system

The following opinion piece appeared in the Carlsbad Current Argus and several other papers on or around July 13, 2020.

Recently, a judge denied a request made by the Lujan Grisham Administration that the Yazzie lawsuit be dropped. That lawsuit claims that New Mexico’s K-12 system is “inadequate.” Many would argue that our K-12 system has long been “inadequate” due to the State’s poor outcomes.

We wholeheartedly agree that New Mexico’s education system has long been “inadequate,” though the issue is not a lack of funding. The ongoing COVID 19 pandemic has exposed the many inadequacies of our K-12 system as well. Parents (and when schools closed this spring, I had two children in public schools) were abruptly forced into the role of home-school teacher in March.

A return to “normalcy” is not on the horizon and that will truly challenge our K-12 system. In advance of the start of school in less than one month, the Public Education Department has presented us with a highly-restrictive proposed opening plan for the fall school year. The hybrid learning model (partially online and partially in-person) is a worthwhile effort, but even staunch advocates of online learning recognize that not all children learn well in a digital environment. That especially includes younger children.

The challenges of computer and broadband access in many parts of our State raise all kinds of additional questions and problems for students, parents, educators, and administrators alike.

The “virtual” experience this spring was cobbled together and disorganized. We hope for something better this fall, but with mask requirements for students and staff alike, social-distancing, and numerous other restrictions, there will be a big increase in demand for alternatives.

A recent RealClear Opinion Research survey of registered voters shows that support for educational choice show that 40% of families are more likely to homeschool or virtual school due to the lockdowns. The poll further found that 64% support school choice. In other words, home schooling, virtual learning, and private schools having more flexible learning models are all going to be explored and likely followed by increasing numbers of New Mexicans.

With so many New Mexicans looking for educational options or even taking on the task of educating their own children, shouldn’t the tax dollars they pay into the system follow the child? Shouldn’t parents have the resources made available to purchase computers and other curriculum materials for their children or, if they prefer, shouldn’t they be able to send their child to the school of their own choice? All of these choices involve major time and financial sacrifices by parents in tough economic times. Rather than penalizing these families, we believe the funding should follow the child and help them directly.

The Rio Grande Foundation has long advocated for school choice in New Mexico. But unions and the political establishment have stood in the way. With the advent of the COVID 19 epidemic we have seen a rapid disruption in traditional education techniques. Problems with our one-size-fits-all K-12 model have laid bare the true “inadequacies” of our educational system. The “old” model of students in one building in lines of desks will likely not return for some time and possibly forever.

The most innovative model available today is “Education Savings Accounts” or ESA’s. There are five ESA active programs in five states: Arizona, Florida, Mississippi, North Carolina and Tennessee. While the details vary by State the basic idea is to allow parents to withdraw their children from public district or charter schools and receive a deposit of public funds into government-authorized savings accounts. Those funds can cover private school tuition and fees, online learning programs, private tutoring, educational therapies, community college costs, and other higher education expenses.

ESA programs are less well-established than other “school choice” programs like charter schools, vouchers, tax credits, and home schooling, but the pandemic is a big problem and policymakers need to have big and innovative solutions. Now, more than ever, those solutions will not work for all students.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation. The Rio Grande Foundation is an independent, nonpartisan, tax-exempt research and educational organization dedicated to promoting prosperity for New Mexico based on principles of limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility

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Economy Legislature Notable News Taxes Top Issues Videos

RGF president Paul Gessing discusses NM’s Unemployment Insurance System on KOAT Channel 7

Due to the shutdown of New Mexico’s economy during the COVID19 outbreak New Mexico businesses have had to furlough or let go large numbers of their workers. This is going to potentially have seriousrepurcussions for the State’s unemployment insurance fund and the payments those businesses must make to that fund.

This article by Carol Wight of the New Mexico Restaurant Association addressed the issue from the 2008-2009 economic crisis. Unfortunately, if the political leadership of New Mexico is not prudent, businesses could be deeply impacted, even if they are able to recover from the shutdown.

You can watch the story here:

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Economy Education Legislature Notable News Tax and Budget Top Issues

Rio Grande Foundation Study: Albuquerque Public Schools Spend Big, don’t See Results

Comparing school districts in New Mexico is often challenging. Albuquerque Public Schools (APS) is one of the largest districts in the entire country. With that come certain “efficiencies of scale” as well as some serious drawbacks.

The answer is to compare similar districts with roughly similar demographics across state lines. Laura Abendroth a policy analyst with the Rio Grande Foundation has crunched the numbers in a detailed research project on the issue of school funding among various school districts of similar demographics. The paper is, “Albuquerque Public Schools v. Southwestern Regional School Districts: How Does Spending and Student Performance Stack Up?”

In advance of this project Abendroth considered numerous large school districts in states surrounding New Mexico. The primary consideration (aside from size) was demographics and poverty.

In addition to APS, Abendroth studied the Austin (TX) ISD, Fort Worth ISD, Denver Public Schools, Mesa Public Schools, and Alpine (UT) Public Schools.

Making solid comparisons across state lines is never easy. For example APS has the highest percentage of Hispanics and Native Americans of the districts studied, but APS has a lower percentage of “English Language Learners” than any district beside Alpine.

Abendroth found (during the 2019-2020 school year) that while Austin ISD’s spending is quite high relative to ALL other districts studied at $28,000 per pupil, APS spends the next-largest amount at $17,571. Denver spent $16,000 per pupil and the other districts all spent $11,000 or so. So, APS is a relatively big-spender on a per-pupil basis.

Indeed APS spends about 20% of its operating budget on capital projects while the other districts spend just 10% of their budgets. Notably, most of those districts have smaller overall budgets, thus making that capital outlay figure even larger in real terms.

Also, APS DOES spend a lot of money in the classroom. In fact, APS class sizes are just 10.7. Austin and Fort Worth are in the mid-teens per class while Denver and Mesa are very close to 20. Alpine School District has 23.6 students on average.

Unfortunately for APS students all of this spending and extra attention in the classroom doesn’t have the impact we would like. Across the board (in terms of graduation and 4thand 8thgrade reading and math NAEP scores) APS only outperforms Fort Worth ISD. To be blunt, APS taxpayers are not really getting their money’s worth.

While solutions are beyond the scope of Abendroth’s paper the Rio Grande Foundation has touted more robust “school choice” options, elimination of LEED mandates and “Prevailing Wage” laws both of which drive up construction costs, and reduction in overall District overhead.

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Economy Legislature Notable News Oil & Gas Taxes Top Issues

Gov. Lujan Grisham needs to “Do No Harm” to Four Corners

Farmington Daily Times

Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak in New Mexico, the Four Corners region of New Mexico faced serious economic challenges. The declining price of natural gas which had been the basis of the area’s economy for decades was the most significant issue.

The price which exceeded $15 per million cubic feet (MCF) back in 2008 embarked on a rapid decline with the advent of the “fracking” revolution. The price is now below $2.00 per MCF and shows no sign of rising in the foreseeable future. That’s a decline of over 80%.

The next “shoe” to drop was the Gov.’s Energy Transition Act which placed the San Juan Generating Station on a path to closure in June of 2022. Efforts by the City of Farmington and Enchant Energy could result in the plant remaining open beyond that deadline.

What is Governor Lujan Grisham’s position on the Enchant Energy project?  No one seems to know. This critical economic issue like so many others has taken an extreme distant back seat to COVID-19.

The Four Corners region needs a Governor and state government that can do more than one thing at the same time. San Juan Generating Station’s employees, and Four Corners’ government officials and economic planners could certainly benefit from state government leadership.

In addition to the extreme energy industry challenges, the Four Corners has also been disproportionately hit by the effects of COVID-19. The Four Corners region has been hard-hit by the virus and has faced stricter timelines for its opening and subsequent economic recovery. The result has been job losses and severe decreases in economic activity for the Navajo Nation and the region as a whole far greater than many other parts of New Mexico.

Add on top of all of these factors and the Gov. is facing a second impactful decision regarding the so-called “Methane Rule.” The Gov. is expected to impose some kind of new regulatory regime on natural gas producers, predominantly in the Four Corners in the months ahead. While environmentalists claim an untold bounty will be reaped in the form of capturing “vented and flared” methane, the reality is that strict rules as proposed by the environmental community would further devastate the region.

All of this is to say that Gov. Lujan Grisham literally holds the Four Corners’ future in her hands. No amount of job retraining money will prepare the local population for jobs that don’t exist. No amount of corporate welfare or state “investment” in things like movie studios will get the region on solid economic footing.

Rather, the region needs real jobs and real economic investment the likes of which job training and government “investment” simply can’t offer. Enchant Energy must be given an opportunity to make its carbon capture technology work. If it doesn’t or if economic conditions show that it is just not feasible, so be it, but the opportunity to keep hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars of economic activity and tax revenue in the region and State simply can’t be dismissed. However, if the carbon capture technology works New Mexico will find itself on the forefront of a new form of green, carbon-free energy.

Likewise, any methane rule must be designed with the realization that if the San Juan region becomes too costly in terms of regulations, natural gas producers will permanently close all but the highest producing wells, and more and more business will leave the state.  Given the massive surplus gas production and rock-bottom prices, it is hard to see additional producers and the jobs they bring ever returning to the region.

New Mexico is quickly heading from the proverbial “penthouse” to the “poorhouse” based on 40% of its budget (oil and gas) essentially evaporating overnight. The Four Corners faces even greater challenges thanks to economic forces beyond their or the Gov.’s control. Inflicting further, unnecessary economic damage on the region would be inexcusable.

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Constitution and Criminal Justice Economy Education Energy and Environment Film Subsidies Legislature Notable News Oil & Gas Open Government Tax and Budget Taxes Top Issues

Understanding the Rio Grande Foundation

The Rio Grande Foundation often comes under criticism from the left. But sometimes we come under fire from the right as well.

For starters we are designated as 501c3 “education and research” think tank. We don’t make endorsements and we don’t “carry water” for any political party or politician. Various media outlets have called us libertarian, conservative, and free market. We call ourselves “free market,” but we don’t waste our breath and time arguing the finer points of ideology because we believe that our work is self-explanatory.

For starters, New Mexico is a deeply challenged state. We believe that a vast majority of these issues are self-inflicted. New Mexico lacks economic freedom and remains poorer and less well educated than our neighbors. We also spend a VAST majority of our time focused on state and local issues as opposed to federal ones.

Those issues broadly include:

  1. Size of Government: New Mexico has long been a state driven by government. Data show that state/local spending is too high and that government regulations make doing business in New Mexico less attractive than doing business elsewhere. We’ve worked on this issue from all angles including: all forms of taxation, subsidies and corporate welfare (notably film subsidies), but also LEDA, JTIP, and “green” subsidies.
  2. Regulation: Rio Grande Foundation has led the charge for “right to work” repeal of NM’s”Davis-Bacon” law, reform of government employee pensions, and against numerous “nanny state” regulations like plastic bag bans. We have also done extensive work against “green” programs from the Energy Transition Act to costly “green” building codes.
  3.   School Choice/Education Reform: Across the political spectrum New Mexicans agree that our K-12 system is failing. While politicians of both parties typically opt for some combination of more money, more time in school (pre-K), and some form of top-down accountability, the Rio Grande Foundation believes that parents and (to an extent students themselves) are better able to decide on the educational options that appeal to them. Charter schools are a good start and should be expanded, but more options are needed.

Additionally, the Rio Grande Foundation supports the US and New Mexico Constitutions, we stand up for free speech, gun rights, private property, and open government.

We don’t take on immigration, gay rights, or abortion issues.

So, there you have it. We at the Rio Grande Foundation have our plates very full, but we are making a difference in New Mexico every day. If that appeals to you, please consider making a tax-deductible donation today!