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RGF takes on EV mandates on “The Overton Window” podcast

The concept of the Overton Window has taken off in recent years. According to Wikipedia: The Overton window is an approach to identifying the ideas that define the spectrum of acceptability of governmental policies. It says politicians can act only within the acceptable range. Shifting the Overton window involves proponents of policies outside the window persuading the public to expand the window.

Sadly, New Mexico Gov. MLG was able to “shift” the Overton Window by simply ignoring the Legislature and passing her policy through an unelected board.

RGF’s president recently sat down with James Hohman of the Michigan-based Mackinac Center (where the Overton Window originated) to discuss the RGF’s work against MLG’s EV mandates. You can listen to the show here.

Explainer: What Is The Overton Window? - Texans For Fiscal Responsibility

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Talking EV mandates and more with Mark and Krysty Ronchetti

Paul had a chance recently to sit down with Mark and Krysty Ronchetti on the latest edition of the “No Doubt About It” podcast. We mostly discussed the Gov.’s recently-adoptetd EV mandate but also looked ahead to the upcoming legislative session and some other critical issues facing New Mexicans.

Check out the conversation below:

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Luncheon: Government’s Quiet Land Grab December 12, 2023

Join the Rio Grande Foundation for Government’s Quiet Land Grab, a luncheon featuring Gabriella Hoffman. December 12, 2023 11:45AM-1:00PM Indian Pueblo Cultural Center 2401 12th St NW, Albuquerque, NM 87104 About Gabriella Hoffman Gabriella Hoffman is the director of the Center for Energy and Conservation at Independent Women’s Forum. She is a freelance media strategist, award-winning writer, and political columnist. She hosts the District of Conservation podcast and CFACT original video series “Conservation Nation.” Gabriella has published columns and articles in Richmond Times-Dispatch, the Hill, RealClearPolicy, Virginian Pilot, Washington Examiner, Deseret News,, Washington Times, Field & Stream, Sporting Classics, Outdoor Life, The Virginia Sportsman, and more. Additionally, she’s been quoted/featured in notable publications including Washington Post, Fox News, NPR, Marie Claire, and Time Magazine’s Guns in America fall 2018 issue. Tickets are limited: Price before December 5, 2023: $35 Price on and after December 11, 2023: $40 Price December 12 and at the door if available: $45
Cancellation policy: The Rio Grande Foundation will honor cancellation requests until December 1, 2023 at 12:00PM MT, 2023, minus a 15% transaction fee.
Economy Energy and Environment Legislature Notable News Top Issues

Talking EV mandates and more with Mark and Krysty Ronchetti

Paul had a chance recently to sit down with Mark and Krysty Ronchetti on the latest edition of the “No Doubt About It” podcast. We mostly discussed the Gov.’s recently-adoptetd EV mandate but also looked ahead to the upcoming legislative session and some other critical issues facing New Mexicans.

Check out the conversation below:

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RGF op-ed: Education reform can boost workforce, economy

The following article appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican on November 19, 2023.

The Legislative Finance Committee has produced a new report looking at the issue of New Mexico’s low workforce participation rate. Here is one of many choice quotes analyzing the problem: “While unemployment rates have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the share of the state’s working age population participating in the labor force is persistently low. Social services, economic development, tax rates, pension systems, the service industry and virtually every other area of the economy is impacted when there are fewer people working to support those who do not work.”

The report further notes “misalignment between the state’s workforce skills and industry is a challenge for New Mexico’s economic future,” the report focuses most of its attention on job training programs and other economic development incentives, but I believe this is a mistake. What the LFC gently calls “misalignment” really means “ill-prepared.”

Sadly, no matter how much New Mexico seems to spend on education, our results remain mired in the very bottom among U.S. states. We all know the numbers. New Mexico is last on the Nation’s Report Card, last on Kids Count and last in nearly any ranking of public education systems or outcomes. New Mexico is still working to comply with the Yazzie v. Martinez ruling, which deemed our education system “inadequate.”

Solving our state’s educational issues is fundamental to the future of New Mexico. People have moved their families out-of-state during the governor’s coronavirus pandemic lockdowns or have found other educational options. Sadly, tens of thousands of New Mexico children continue to suffer in a failing system.

The key is to reform the system, not pour more money into a system that is so clearly broken. Recently, through the education reform project called Opportunity for All Kids New Mexico, my foundation held a daylong conference in which numerous reform ideas were discussed.

High-level reformers from across the nation and state discussed private school choice options that have been implemented, how New Mexico can learn lessons from other states and maximize its charter school laws and what we can learn from Mississippi in reforming our existing education system. Advocates for charter schools were also able to tout ways in which New Mexico’s current form of school choice is working to improve education and outline how it could be harnessed to do even more.

After all, when your education system is so troubled, you need to consider all the options. Sadly, advocates of the status quo failed system, many of whom are supported financially and elected thanks to support from the unions, continue to stand in the way of necessary reforms.

What is holding New Mexico’s economy back? Many policies are responsible. Rio Grande Foundation continues to advocate for needed tax reform (to name just one needed reform). That said, no area of public policy in New Mexico could have a more profound impact on both our children and our long-term economic success simultaneously than would making needed changes to our education system.

In next year’s 30-day legislative session and beyond, New Mexicans and their elected officials must embrace a combination of accountability and reform that could (at last) begin to move New Mexico out of last place, improve the lives of our children and give us a better workforce.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, a nonpartisan research and educational organization.

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RGF opinion piece: Electric vehicle rule is unsustainable and will kill jobs

The following appeared in the Albuquerque Journal on Tuesday, November 21st, 2023.

After four long days of testimony and public comment the Environmental Improvement Board decided recently to move forward with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s plan to follow California’s “clean vehicle” standard. In practice that means New Mexico’s car dealers will have to increase sales of EVs in New Mexico from the current 3% of all new vehicles to 43% by summer of 2026 and 82% by summer of 2031.

That may seem like a long time away, but the summer of 2026 is less than three years from now. New Mexico’s car dealers are the ones with the most to lose under this policy, but the new rules will negatively impact all New Mexicans. Car dealers rightly fear that New Mexicans will travel to neighboring states to purchase their cars. There is nothing to stop them. In fact, online super-seller Amazon just announced that it would begin selling vehicles online.

Amazon’s presence in the auto market alone is a problem for car dealers but if Amazon — and out-of-state dealers — can sell whatever consumers want and New Mexico dealers can’t, that is a big problem. Many car dealers are small businesses. New car dealers average 56 employees per dealership and employ a total of 6,314 New Mexicans statewide. Car dealers also pay numerous taxes — like property, payroll, and income — that Amazon and Texas dealers won’t pay when they sell cars to New Mexicans.

The EIB’s process is hugely problematic. New Mexico’s Democrats talk endlessly about defending “democracy” but when push comes to shove, elected bodies like the Legislature refuse to guard their own power. Every Democrat in the Legislature needs to go on the record in support or opposition to the governor’s mandate when seeking reelection in 2024. Notably, every single Republican in the Legislature signed letters in opposition to the proposal.

Sadly, despite overwhelming numbers of New Mexicans expressing their opposition, including 3,517 individual opponents through our website, the seven-member board voted on a mere 3-2 basis to adopt the mandate. The governor couldn’t even get an outright majority of her own appointed board to support her policies.

So, who supported it? Major environmental groups led the charge, of course. But, in attending the hearings a common refrain from supporters — many of them wealthy, Anglo, EV owners from Albuquerque and Santa Fe — were that “EV’s work great for them.”

That attitude ignores the dire lack of charging infrastructure throughout rural New Mexico, an issue that is even more acute in Navajo Country. Apartment dwellers and those who do not own single-family homes, while often living a “green” lifestyle, will inevitably struggle to charge their mandated vehicles.

Factually speaking, this mandate cannot and will not work. New Mexicans will simply not have enough EVs available to comply with this mandate with vastly more populous California having already embraced similar rules. Car dealers will go out of business and either Lujan Grisham or some future governor will either delay or modify this unworkable mandate.

The question is how many jobs will be killed in New Mexico? How many people and businesses will leave our state or choose not to come here due to the adoption of another ill-conceived public policy? We don’t know, but what we do know is that despite having the benefit of a large federal infrastructure, and the jobs and tax dollars it brings, and being the second-leading oil producing state in the entire country, New Mexico remains poor and is losing its young people.

In the name of environmental “sustainability” our governor has made New Mexico’s future less sustainable.

Paul Gessing is president of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, 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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KRQE covers EIB hearings and quotes RGF

KRQE Channel 13 did a very good story on the meetings currently being held at the Environmental Improvement Board that could dramatically curtail your ability to buy a gas powered vehicle in New Mexico.

Aside from RGF’s brief comment at the end there are some well-done comments throughout including from Sen. George Muñoz, a leading Democrat in the Legislature who opposes fellow Democrat Lujan Grisham’s overreach on this issue. Kudos to Sen. Muñoz.

Even if you take everything the climate alarmist lobby has to say about CO2 emissions and climate change at face value, the problem is NOT here in the United States, it is coming from China and to an extent India and nothing we can do here in the US (let alone New Mexico) will mitigate against that. See story below and map/chart below that.

Local Government Notable News Open Government Top Issues Videos

RGF comments in KOAT Channel 7 story about Mayor Keller’s city-financed book

In the wake of the COVID 19 pandemic the Keller Administration spent $97,000 of taxpayer dollars to publish book; sold fewer than 100 copies. The City’s inspector general trashed the project as a “waste of taxpayer money.”

We concur and shared as much with KOAT TV Channel 7. You can see the report here.

Not only was Mayor Keller’s performance as Mayor during COVID 19 poor (largely following the Gov.’s lockdown approach), but this book was clearly written as a campaign piece in support of the Mayor, not as a “after action report” to facilitate understanding of the policies that worked and didn’t work both with Pandemic, but also the George Floyd riots in the summer of 2020.

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RGF pours cold water on free buses and “study” justifying them

Recently RGF President Paul Gessing sat down with  KOAT TV Channel 7 to  discuss some of the numerous problems with the City of Albuquerque’s “free” bus program. Sadly, the City Council on a 6-3 vote approved making the program “permanent.” Only three councilors (Lewis, Sanchez, and Grout) opposed the bill. 

You can read the “study” which supposedly justifies the “free” bus program here.

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Case against ABQ City Council Planned Parenthood “donation” to move forward

The case (brought by RGF President Paul Gessing) (with legal representation from the Liberty Justice Center) over Albuquerque City Council’s “donation” of your tax dollars to Planned Parenthood will move forward. A Bernalillo County Court denied the City of Albuquerque and Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains’ motions to dismiss Gessing v. Yara, a case challenging the City’s illegal donation of taxpayer funds to the private organization.

City Councilwoman Tammy Fiebelkorn explained that she sponsored the $250,000 donation “to provide vital support for Planned Parenthood.”

In a ruling issued November 1, the Court found that the plaintiffs have made a creditable case that the “agreement” between the city and the organization is essentially a sham, purporting to purchase services from Planned Parenthood while in fact paying out taxpayer money to a politically favored group.

The primary issue at stake is New Mexico’s “anti-donation clause” and whether a government body can simply “donate” taxpayer dollars to a private, political organization.