March 7, 2014
By Carroll Cagle
Not around in 2015 will be:
- Representative Henry “Kiki” Saavedra, chairman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, who is finishing up his 38th year in the Legislature.
- Representative Ed Sandoval, chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, who is finishing up his 32nd year.
- House Democratic Leader Rick Miera of Albuquerque’ s North Valley (having served 24 years).
- House Republican Leader Don Bratton of Hobbs, having served ten years.
- A feeling that “it is time;” that “I have done my share – and then some.” After decades spent driving back and forth to endless meetings in Santa Fe, and sitting in windowless hearing rooms, and listening to colleagues on the floor intoning on every issue under the sun, after a while, well, life out in the sunshine amongst family and friends, and maybe a bit of travel and such, starts to look like an attractive option.
- “It’s not much fun anymore” (Part I). For a long time, the Democrats had ample majorities and even though there were (and are) factions and shifting coalitions even within the party, in recent years the partisan alignment in the House has been much closer, and philosophical disagreements on every darned thing that comes along, so things that used to be easy are now more likely to be aggravating and stressful.
- “It’s not much fun anymore” (Part II). Although the state government’s revenue projections have perked up this year, leading to some more spending, the lingering malaise known as the Great Recession – exacerbated in New Mexico by a growing fear of having the Federal money spigot steadily cranked down – means that the outlandish days of spending on every idea that popped up (as in the “Richardson era” before the recession hit and when the oil and gas fields were sending $$$ by the bushels in tax receipts), are not likely to be repeated anytime soon. Cutting back, and watching the nickels, although prudent and necessary, is less enjoyable to many elected officials than “bringing home (lots of) the bacon.”
- Albuquerque South Valley Democratic Representative Ernie Chavez
- Representative Nate Cote, a Las Cruces Democrat
- Representative Anna Crook, a Clovis Republican
- Representative Jim White, R-Albuquerque
- Representative Bill Gray, a Republican from Artesia
March 5, 2014
UPDATED: March 6, 2014
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“Compromise” marked the close of the 2014 legislative session
- The spending bill for next fiscal year was okayed in the final couple of days, put together under the leadership of conservative Democratic Senator John Arthur Smith, chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. The House, after progressives and moderates/conservatives deadlocked on key aspects of the general appropriations measure, finally passed the measure Smith put together on a 58-8 vote. To demonstrate the starkly different dynamics in the Senate, it sailed through there unanimously, 42-0. The omnibus appropriations measure calls for $6.19 billion in spending — a $293 million, or five percent increase over the last fiscal year’s general fund spending. Governor Martinez, although cool to the five percent bump-up, is more or less okay with the results while also promising to use her line-item veto pen to weed out some things the Legislature wants, but she finds unwise or too costly.
- The Governor’s education chief, Hanna Skandera, a nationally known school reformer, will keep pushing for changes to the status quo, and causing the teachers’ unions fits in the process. The teachers’ unions are a mighty force within the Democratic Party apparatus, and in total tandem with the legislative progressives. Together, a number of legislative D’s, supported in their effort by the unions, have managed to keep Skandera from having a full-fledged confirmation vote since she was appointed three years ago by Martinez — until this year when the tightness of the balance of power played out with a tie vote in the Senate Rules Committee. With neither a pro nor con measure thus coming before the chamber, Skandera will continue to rock along, still occupying the cabinet secretary’s chair but with the prefix “acting” affixed to her title. Many business leaders have been in a state of consternation about the poor outcomes of the state’s school system for years and have voiced their support for the Martinez-Skandera reform efforts.
- However, even though Skandera will still be there doing things the teachers’ unions strenuously object to, the pro-reform forces failed, yet once again, to get a bill passed that would put an end to a practice known as “social promotion.” The term means that a third-grader, even if she or he fails the reading test at the level, can still be passed along up to fourth grade for “social” reasons.
- Another now-familiar outcome was the failure, for the fourth year in a row, of Governor Martinez’ plan to repeal a law passed in 2003 as pushed by then-Democratic Governor Bill Richardson that allows immigrants, even those without legal status (“undocumented”), to obtain a license if they “prove” they live in the state. (A number of fraud cases have been brought against “license mills” whereby the miscreants gin up alleged proof of residency for people from countries all over the world – for an outlandish fee.) Martinez and her allies worry that, soon, the hammer will come down from the Department of Homeland Security, rendering existing drivers’ licenses for all New Mexicans to be invalid for air travel – even within the U.S. — because of terrorism threats from the existing license procedures here.
- A proposed constitutional amendment to increase the state’s minimum wage, and tie increases to future inflation, failed to make it on the ballot, partly because some erstwhile supporters did not think such a requirement should be in the state constitution.
- Also going down to defeat was a proposed constitutional amendment to legalize recreational marijuana. Among other things, the pro-marijuana forces noted the financial bonanza that neighboring Colorado is projecting — $1 billion in sales this first year, replete with $100 million in new tax revenue based on the 10 percent tax rate there. But those who are nervous about legalizing marijuana (beyond the existing medical marijuana limitations) joined with those who are interested but objected to it being in the constitution as opposed to statute, combined to deep-six this notion. In both the marijuana and minimum wage instances, a reason for going this route was to avoid the certainty of a veto from the Governor, seeing as how constitutional amendment proposals if passed by the Legislature go straight to the voters.
- Governor Martinez got part of what she wanted on water projects. Motivated partly by severe limitations that have become evident due to both prolonged drought, and last September’s torrential floods, the Governor had asked that $112 million of the annual capital outlay (building projects) program go for water projects — such as flood control and new wells, etc. The Legislature, wanting to keep hold of its cherished plan to allocate some capital funds within their districts for projects they think their constituents need and want (water or not water), ended up giving Martinez $89 million for water efforts instead.
- Job training sought by the Governor and her Economic Development Department got full funding, as did a fund to help “close the deal” for companies interested in locating new facilities in New Mexico.
- Another bill to attract companies here failed, however. It would’ve given the new facilities lower electric rates as an attractant — but legislators squirmed that the rest of the ratepayers would have to pick up the resulting slack. One big deal that is said to be hovering out there is a $2 billion plan to build a manufacturing plant in the Albuquerque area to make batteries for the electric-car company, Tesla.
‘Round third base
UPDATE: The House has now passed the Senate bill 58-8 and sent it to Governor Martinez.
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State budget dynamics
By Carroll Cagle
February 14, 2014
The close balance of power within the Legislature, and between the legislative and executive branches, is exemplified today by the fact that the 30-day session, only six days away from its mandatory end, still has not produced a state budget (spending bill).
Seeing as how that large and complex task is the almost-sole reason for the session in the first place, this calls for analysis.
One aspect is that the House of Representatives, as we and others have reported, is teetering in an exceptionally close balance of power between ostensibly majority Democrats and ostensibly minority Republicans. The “ostensibly” modifier comes into play because two Democrats have been absent all session for major health reasons and one Democrat has voted with the Republicans on some floor issues (and other D’s have done so in committee votes).
Then, there is the familiar, but generally civil, tension between House and Senate, regardless of party; the well-known tension between legislative and executive bodies in all states and in Washington, and also of importance are philosophical differences amongst the 70 (or 68 voting ones this session), the 42 senators, and the governor and her appointees.
In addition to budget differences, there are strong differences this session between education reformers and the teachers’ unions, and between legislators empathetic with hard-working (but undocumented) immigrants who need and can now have drivers’ licenses, and those worried that New Mexicans will have to soon have a passport to fly, even domestically, or make a separate trip to the MVD to get a Federally-approved ID in addition to their driver’s license.
The mandated adjournment time of noon next Thursday (Feb. 20) serves as an anvil of forged steel that will force results one way or the other — bill approval, bill defeat, or compromise. Increasingly, there is talk that a fourth option might be arising — that inability to work out the differences might force a special legislative session afterward.
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From brainpower to the marketplace:
New Mexico’s important mission
By Carroll Cagle
February 14, 2014
New Mexico ranks No. 1 in the nation in one important way: It is at the top of the 50 states in what is called “non-industry investment in R&D.” That’s great, but the New Mexico Economic Development Department and Governor Susana Martinez see the need to do things differently.
New Mexico has some of the most impressive R&D (research-and-development) assets in the nation — or the world for that matter. Yet, a massive percentage of this R&D occurs within the secure gates of the sprawling Federal institutions of Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories. So commercializing this knowledge base — turning scientific knowledge into technologies for the marketplace — has been limited, severely so given the potential.
At the same time, the commercializing of strictly private-sector R&D, with some fine exceptions, has been less impressive — the state is No. 42 among the 50 states on industry investment in R&D. Other markers: N.M. is No. 27 in entrepreneurial activity and No. 32 in the number of Initial Public Offerings (IPO’s – stock offerings), and 30 “overall.”
There likely are a number of key reasons why New Mexico lags in the second “D” —“deployment.” One is that the private sector in the state is limited, compared to many of the other 49. Another reason is that the Federal R&D labs have as a major mission nuclear weapons research and “surety” (safety). Although both Los Alamos and Sandia have expanded since the Manhattan Project of the 1940s to do much else besides nukes, the understandable and necessary access restrictions, coupled with a less-than-entrepreneurial mindset of the scientists and engineers there, achieving commercial spinoffs has not been a major part of the pie charts at PowerPoint presentations.
Yet, the looming danger of increasing federal budget restrictions (based on the teetering $17 trillion-plus Federal debt) has caused the N.M. Economic Development Department (E.D.D.) to call for new efforts to improve the state’s economy via a sustained, coherent, commercialization approach.
An E.D.D. paper called “innovation plus enterprise equals economic development” notes that the need has been long-recognized but not suitably addressed:
“A 1982 report states: ‘New Mexico’s historical inability to capitalize fully on its resource advantages threatens…to export high technology to the greater benefit of other states.’ More than three decades later, the same issues are being discussed and the need to address them is more urgent as Federal funding declines.”
The department then makes two primary points:
- Any effort to improve things must “address gaps in every single step of the continuum (or) will fail to result in a sustainable program for success.”
- Failing to grow commercial technology in New Mexico means the state will be “unable to provide career opportunities” and high-paying jobs.
By Carroll Cagle
February 12, 2014
A close political arm-wrestling contest in the State Capitol
By Carroll Cagle
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Dairy Producers seek legislation to help close loophole allowing frivolous lawsuits by trial attorneys
By Carroll Cagle
February 7, 2014
A recent national article said what many already know: Melted cheese makes almost any food taste better. What many may not know is that New Mexico is one of the largest diary states in the nation. The sector has 355,000 cows at 172 dairies mostly in southeastern and southern New Mexico, and much of the milk gets processed into cheese at plants also located here.
But due to some loose language in existing state law, the dairies are under legal attack - being sued by out-of-state law firms as a result. As the Carlsbad Current-Argus puts it: "State Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo, has introduced an amendment to the Right to Farm Act, House Bill 51, which she says brings more clarity to the murky law that is currently on the books."
As the Dairy Producers of New Mexico tells New Mexico Prosperity Project: "We are one of the most highly regulated industries in New Mexico and our country...New Mexico Environment Department, New Mexico Department of Agriculture, United State Department of Agriculture, Environmental Protection Agency, Food and Drug Administration, and Department of Homeland Security, just to name a few. All of these agencies have not said our dairies are in violation of any regulations, laws, or ordinances, but these attorneys have found a loophole in our Right to Farm Act that we are now trying to close."
Specifically, Representative Herrell's bill would strike the word "improperly" from the definition of which agricultural operations of facilities can be sued. The New Mexico Department of Agriculture, in an official comment on the legislation, says: "Striking 'improperly'from (current law) will remove an ambiguous legal term that could be interpreted more broadly than 'negligently' or 'illegally.'"
1. Economic information about New Mexico dairies:
New Mexico dairies employ approximately 4,221 people. The New Mexico State University Cooperative Extension Service estimates that the direct economic impact of the dairy industry state-wide is approximately 1.02 billion dollars and a total impact of approximately 2.6 billion dollars. New Mexico dairies are one of the largest purchasers of agricultural products (feed crops) in the State.
Currently, there are approximately 172 dairies, with the most being in Roosevelt County (41) and Chaves County (40). For more information, check out the New Mexico State University Dairy Extension website.
How many cows?
Approximately 355,000. NM has largest average herd size in the nation with an average of 2088 milking cows per dairy.
How much milk do those cows produce?
Over 7 billion pounds of milk each year.
What happens to all of that milk?
Most of New Mexico milk is now processed in the State because of the cheese plants that moved here for the quality of the milk.
Read more on N.M. dairies from New Mexico Dairy Producers.
2. Melted cheese makes most everything taste better.
News report on the legal attacks on N.M. dairies – and a legislative solution:
3. Dairies out to stop ‘frivolous lawsuits: "New Mexico’s dairy industry is under attack, according to some farmers in the southeastern quadrant of the state, and they hope legislators support proposed legislation they say would end the assault." Read the full article in the Carlsbad Current-Argus.
They’re off and running for statewide and federal offices
By Carroll Cagle
February 6, 2014
Who’s running? Now we know. The first hurdle for candidates for major offices – the deadline for filing official declarations of candidacy and (they hope) a sufficient number of signatures by registered voters in their parties — has now occurred.
Republican Governor Susana Martinez is now in the fourth year of what she hopes will be her first of two terms, but five Democrats yesterday filed the petitions at the secretary of state’s office, seeking to be their party’s nominee against her in the November elections. Democrat Gary King, the current attorney general and son of the legendary four-term governor, Bruce King, is the best-known among the D hopefuls but in such a crowded venue, who knows what might happen?
Other major revelations from the filings:
- Tom Udall, a Democrat finishing his first six-year term as U.S. senator (after years in the northern district U.S. House seat and attorney general before that), has no primary opponent but there are two Republicans wanting to oust him including most notably Allen Weh, a hard-nosed millionaire businessman and retired Marine colonel.
- Two of the three U.S. House members from N.M. drew no primary opponents. They are Michelle Lujan Grisham, D, of the Albuquerque metro area, and Steve Pearce, R, in the southern district. Ben Ray Lujan, D, northern district, did draw an unexpected primary challenge from an Albuquerque assistant D.A. All three face general election opposition.
- Candidates for all other statewide offices had to file, as well, and they did -- those seeking their party’s nomination for lieutenant governor, attorney general, secretary of state, land commissioner, state treasurer, state auditor and for a court of appeals post.
Next hurdle for this flash mob of candidates will be each party’s “pre-primary nominating convention,” next month. At that point, the hopefuls must get at least 20 per cent of the votes of the delegates to make it onto the ballot in the June 5 primaries. If they don’t get that 20 per cent, a “Hail Mary” effort involves rounding up even more voter signatures. This is something no one has ever done, but a new face, a deep-pocketed software progressive Democrat now living in Santa Fe named Alan Webber, plans to go this route and he may have the wherewithal to pull it off.
In addition to the statewide and Federal races, another large group of primary candidates must file petitions by March 11. These will be the candidates for the 70 state house of representative seats. (No state senators, who have four-year terms, are on the ballot this year.)
By Carroll Cagle
February 5, 2014
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Who wants what —
Other ideas for the Legislature
By Carroll Cagle
January 27, 2014
The Legislative Reports by New Mexico Prosperity Project in recent days have highlighted what the governor, the legislative jobs council, and the statewide chamber, ACI, have recommended the session now under way do to help the state’s languishing economy and private sector. Here are more:
Think New Mexico
This generally centrist, thoughtful think tank proposes:
- Making it easier for businesses to deal with the state bureaucracy (licensing, regulation, registration, taxation, etc.) by creating a “one-stop shop” online portal. (The governor also advocates this, and the Senate Democratic president, Mary Kay Papen, introduced it.)
- Requiring companies that locate or expand in New Mexico to reach proven benchmarks before receiving state incentives.
Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce
The state’s largest chamber late last week put forth a lengthy shopping list, including recommendations on behalf of:
- The Senate (three years late) confirming reformer Hanna Skandera as cabinet secretary of education (over the strenuous objections of the teachers’ unions).
- $15 million for a “closing fund” to help companies poised to locate in New Mexico pay for needed infrastructure.
- The Administration’s proposal to allocate 60 per cent ($112 million) of the state’s capital outlay budget to handle woefully inadequate local water infrastructure needs.
- Providing funding for performance-based teachers’ pay.
New Mexico Oil and Gas Association
The industry that produces a major portion of state government’s taxes is advocating improvements in the natural gas vehicle (NGV) tax administration system. Compressed natural gas (CNG) and liquefied natural gas (LNG) simultaneously offer the opportunity for $$$ savings in fleet operations, less emissions, and a nod toward the natural gas producing San Juan Basin in northwest New Mexico. As it is, many out-of-state NGV’s may pay little or no taxes under the antiquated system.
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Is there potential for consensus
on rational, strategic economic development?
By Carroll Cagle
January 23, 2014
In the state capitol, there seems to be a sober mood of reflection – and the stirrings of a belief in the need for rational, focused, fact-based, determined approaches to improving the state’s economy.
New Mexico has never been at the top of the prosperous states, although, in terms of the private sector, the oil and gas sector’s prolific output (in terms of barrels of oil, millions of cubic feet of natural gas, and in dollar terms of both) have often masked that overall unremarkable status.
Add to that the fact that the Federal government’s yearly infusion of dollars has resulted in many thousands of jobs (directly and via contracts) and billions of dollars in economic activity. Although the Federal activities represented by the BIA, BLM, Forest Service and national parks have always brought some Washington tax dollars our way and continue to, the big influx began in the 1940s with the Manhattan Project being formed as what became the anchor tenant in a national security complex made up of Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories, White Sands Missile Range, and Kirtland, Holloman and Cannon air force bases. Finally, beginning in the 1980s, corporate tech giants like Intel, Phillips Semiconductors, Motorola and Honeywell Defense Avionics formed a new private high tech cluster in Albuquerque.
Since the Great Recession that began in 2008 and which continues today for many people and businesses (despite narrow definitions by economists), there seems to have been developing a growing consensus that “something must be done” to pick New Mexico up out of the doldrums and set the state on a long-range path to a diversified, productive economy. Although oil (albeit not natural gas at the moment) continues apace, the real wakeup call seems to have come about as a result of the fact that Uncle Sugar’s credit card is waaaay maxed out and that the Federal $$$ that seemed to be a given may not be, after all. Plus, Motorola and Phillips have long since pulled up stakes, and Intel although still massive (for New Mexico) is a wan shadow of its previously robust self, and reflection is definitely in order.
This year, Governor Susana Martinez and her New Mexico Economic Development Department have put forth to the Legislature now under way a number of measures which represent their take on what needs to happen. Simultaneously and unusually, the Democratic leadership in the Legislature has produced a comprehensive set of bills as a result of the first year of activity by its Legislative Jobs Council.
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Legislative Jobs Council Recommendations
By Carroll Cagle
January 22, 2014
1. New Mexico will need to generate more than 160,000 new economic base jobs in 10 years just to get back to where we were in 2007.
2. It is doable.
3. It requires four heavy lifts simultaneously:
- Get clarity and consensus on the predicament and an job creation agenda.
- Plus up existing program approaches despite diminishing returns.
- Innovate new program approaches for outlier economic base sectors.
- Strategically integrate economic development, tourism, education and workforce development.
Development of a statewide assessment and planning process:
- Continue the IJC process for one more year in order to finish developing process model, get the bottom up local and regional data needed to calibrate the criteria for legislative and policy value judgments. Provide matching funding support for NMARC efforts to integrate the COG and county economic assessments into a statewide model.
- Develop a companion assessment and planning process that accommodates job creation and community development priorities for tier two and three economic development priorities.
- Fund efforts by the New Mexico Department of Higher Education, Workforce Solutions and the employability council to continue their work on the development of a Workforce Gap Forecast model. The model is being designed to predict the number of jobs needed in the future (demand), the skill, knowledge and experience requirements, the education and training pipeline (supply) and calculate gaps.
- Develop a Jobs Impact Model to evaluate the impact of proposed legislation on the potential creation or destruction of economic base jobs.
- Align the state’s economic development commission, workforce council and council of government districts to facilitate data collection, analytics, planning and accountability.
Expanding and Improving proven programs:
- Undertake the rebuilding of New Mexico’s state and local apparatus for sourcing and managing the development of new economic base jobs with proven program approaches.
- Increase funding to NMEDD for the NM partnership for marketing and additional professional FTEs in scale with a detailed pipeline development and case load metrics per target industry sectors under a specific detailed plan.
- Provide funding to NMEDD for a coop marketing program to stimulate local funding of targeted lead generation activities in scale with the region’s job creation metrics for each target industry sector under a specific detailed plan.
Administer the program through a recalibrated Certified Cities Program.
- Provide funding to NMEDD for a coop staff augmentation program to stimulate and leverage the hiring of professional staff for local economic development organizations in scale with a detailed case load metrics for the target industry sectors under a specific detailed plan. Administer the program through a recalibrated Certified Cities Program.
- Create a discretionary closing fund for major economic development projects.
- Provide funding to NMEDD to grow the capacity of the states incubators and enterprise development centers.
- Fund the NM Department of Tourism budget to expand marketing and visitor experience development activities.
- Increase funding to the Sate Investment Council and SBICs to leverage private equity.
Develop new economic base job creation programs:
- Form a consortia of New Mexico based think tanks to focus on development of new program approaches for outlier economic base sectors for which there are no current program approaches or procuring agent organizations in place.
Provide matching funds for development of a statewide strategic response to an expected surge in economic base job creation from the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Strategic partners include universities, regional healthcare providers, and local economic development organizations.
- Fund a series of pilot programs around the state aimed at starting up, expanding and recruiting individual, independent or mobile workers engaged in economic base activity. This sector is one of the fastest growing and highest paying sectors in the economy. Business model development has been completed. Funding and organizational support is required to test and proliferate the program. Strategic partners in this program would include Tourism agencies, business incubators, EDCs, SBDCs, Chambers of Commerce, Community Colleges and trade organizations.
Exported services and government contractor conversions:
Fund a pilot program designed to expand, recruit and start up small employers that export their services. This would include efforts to pioneer a program to convert New Mexico’s idled federal government contractors to private sector international exporters.
- Fund and support regional efforts to pilot a special program approach to exploiting imminent federal investment in the restoration of national forests for developing a cluster of new economic base enterprises in the bio mass energy and small wood manufacturing sectors.
Nuclear task force:
- Form a statewide taskforce to assess the significant emerging opportunities for New Mexico to help develop and capitalize on the development of the next generation nuclear energy product and services.
- Form a public private task force to develop a statewide strategy to help New Mexico’s product and service providers capture an increasing share of contracts sourced by New Mexico’s healthcare providers, federal government installations and energy producers.General improvements to improve competitiveness, cure factor of production gaps and increase the metabolic rate of entrepreneurship
- Fund an expanded Summer youth employment program.
- Memorial instructing Departments of Workforce Solutions, Higher Education, Public Education and the Employability jobs Council create a soft skills training program for New Mexico students and jobseekers.
- A memorial instructing New Mexico colleges and universities to provide annual reports on hiring, salaries and job offers by major.
- Fund a Physics Early Education Pilot Program for middle schools.
- Fund an online tourism training program.
- Make WorkKeys one of the exit options for high school graduation.
- Fund a capital outlay set aside that requires telecommunications companies to partner with local businesses for existing fiber optic connections.
- Fund Department of Transportation for staffing the administration of a rural deployment plan.
- Memorial to have NMFA and NMEDD study ways to alleviate the workforce housing shortage in rural high jobgrowth areas such as Lee and Eddy Counties.
- Improve transmission access to out of state markets
Tax and regulatory competitiveness:
- Adopt the Utah post performance tax credit program
- Permanently fund JTPA through NMEDD
Keep an eye on the unexpected
As the Legislature proceeds
By Carroll Cagle
January 21, 2014
The 2014 legislature begins today at noon for a 30-day run. Generally, the session is limited to budgetary matters unlike the 60-day sessions in odd-numbered years. That restriction, imposed by the New Mexico Constitution, seems more appropriate than usual this year because this state — never near the top in overall economic health —continues to lag the nation and even the states around it as the Great Recession, which began in 2008 continues to linger.
This session, besides the customary budget legislation, look for these unusual aspects:
1. Introduction of a proposed constitutional amendment allowing recreational marijuana in New Mexico. (Medical marijuana already is authorized.) To an extent this will be promoted as yet another budget item due to the predicted $$$ windfalls predicted for state government budgets in the new “green” states of Colorado and Washington, due to taxes on the newly legal cannabis. Underneath the surface is the prospect that if the measure does get onto the ballot in New Mexico this November, its popularity among young, and/or liberal Democrats and independents will work against the otherwise healthy re-election prospects of Republican Governor Susana Martinez, who looks with disfavor on the measure. (Constitutional amendment proposals do not require a governor’s signature so Democratic majorities, if present, could get this thing right onto the ballot.)
2. Another proposed constitutional amendment would tap the state’s permanent fund to pay for expanded early childhood education programs. Supporters, mostly Democrats, say this would be a wise and humane investment given the $18 billion in the two categories of permanent funds. The conservative Democrat who heads the Senate Finance Committee, and probably most Republicans, some Democrats, and the governor caution against “raiding” the state’s precious nest egg whose investment income already produces about 15 per cent of state government revenues.
3. Two Democratic House members will be out due to health issues, which could make it easier for Republicans to get their bills through the narrowly divided House. In the governor’s first three sessions, she often was thwarted by extremely close floor votes, so look for the two absences to factor in.
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By: Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce
January 21, 2014
Excerpts re. Governor Susana Martinez’ opening address to the Legislature (known as the “State of the State” speech):
In addition to building a diverse economy, the Governor listed education as a top priority. Of course, a skilled workforce is essential to employers and, quite rightfully, is coupled with the goal of growing the private sector. Here are highlights of her proposals:
- Support Senate President Pro Tempore Mary Kay Papen’s legislation to create an online one-stop shop for small businesses to get permits and other assistance.
- Make the Job Training Incentive Training Program (JTIP) permanent in the state budget.
- Expand the number of Early College High Schools that lead to work ready high school diplomas and associates degrees.
- Appropriate $7.5M to create endowed chairs for the universities to attract the best professors especially in STEM fields.
- Fund $2M to help the labs take new technology to market.
- Expand the Angel tax credit to attract investment.
- Increase training and education programs for health care workers at all levels.
- Attract health care professionals from out of state.
- Invest $60M of capital outlay money to improve water infrastructure.
- Increase education funding by $100M.
- Focus education initiatives on teaching children to read by the third grade, tying teacher evaluations to student achievement, raising salaries for new teachers and raising graduation rates.
- Improve the quality of life by focusing on public safety issues requiring significant attention including an array of laws regarding child abuse and driving while intoxicated.
- Honor our veterans by making permanent the Returning Heroes Fire Fighter program and building local veterans cemeteries in rural areas.
Who Wants What —
ideas to improve New Mexico’s economy in 2014 session
By Carroll Cagle
January 17, 2014
As we mentioned in our previous newsletter, there is broad agreement that New Mexico’s economy is lagging — and has been for several years. Measures of economic strength show that New Mexico often is far back in the pack, nationally, and that we notably lag neighboring states. As the 30-day 2014 legislative session prepares to begin on Tuesday (January 21), New Mexico Prosperity Project provides a select few of the many recommendations from various entities:
Governor Susana Martinez:
- $10 million for a program called LEDA (Local Economic Development Act), used to build infrastructure improvements for companies interested in locating in New Mexico.
- Funding the Job Training Incentive Program and making it permanent.
- Doubling limits on “angel investment” tax credits. Angel investments typically are earliest-stage investments, by high-net worth individuals, to help launch start-ups.
New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI):
- Statewide coordination of various, individual, regional economic development plans.
- Simplifying and making more rational the scattered, discordant regulatory procedures at the state level.
- Support of Interstate Stream Commission’s effort to clarify and defend New Mexico’s right to water.
- Oppose increases in the state minimum wage(New Mexico Democratic Party supports making New Mexico’s minimum wage the highest in the country, at $10/hr., and doing so by constitutional amendment rather than legislation).
- Simplifying the entire state tax code, going more toward a lower, broad-based tax rate rather than a code replete with individual carve-outs and specialized twists.
A look at business and economic development issues
In the 2014 New Mexico Legislature
By Carroll Cagle
January 15, 2014
It is easy to get agreement that New Mexico’s economy is doing poorly – not so easy to get agreement on what are the main things that can be done to help it improve.
Getting 112 legislators, from both parties, to settle on some priorities will be a process worth watching — and participating in. Add the fact that Gov. Susana Martinez on the fourth floor, has a major role as well, and the dynamics become even more complex.
Nor does the dynamic just described even begin to mention what major business and public policy groups think needs to be done to help boost the economy. Many have well-thought-out recommendations which they will push ardently. Not least, many individual companies will have their own issues!
One may be permitted to hope that out of all this potential cacophony may evolve some commonality. But as the saying goes it is hard to get a handful of people to even agree on where to go for lunch. Getting a couple of hundred to agree on policy can be devilishly hard.
The 30-day session begins next Tuesday, January 21, at noon in the fabled Roundhouse. New Mexico Prosperity Project will provide you with “Legislative Reports” — focusing on business and economic development news – as the session proceeds. It will end at noon on February 20. (Deadline for bill introduction is February 5.) We will provide specifics on what the Administration is proposing, plus the "Legislative Jobs Council," the Association of Commerce and Industry, and some others.
Prosperity? Yep — New Mexico
Needs it more than ever in 2014 (Part 2)
By Carroll Cagle
January 2, 2014
Here's a view from a national perch about New Mexico's economic situation:
New Mexico remains unable to improve much on an anemic recovery and officials trace it to one root cause: an overreliance on government jobs. Federal spending has long played a large role in the economy of New Mexico, which boasts numerous military bases and federal laboratories, including the Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories.
Federal, state, and local government jobs make up about one-fourth of all nonfarm employment in the state of roughly two million people, and many other private New Mexico employers rely on government contracts.
While New Mexico isn't the only state enduring a fitful recovery, its sluggishness in a region of the country that is otherwise enjoying solid growth could signal trouble for years to come if the problem isn't remedied. New Mexico officials said the recent federal shutdown and budget cuts have made them particularly leery of relying on the government sector. — Nathan Koppel, Wall Street Journal, December 27, 2013
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