With New Mexico’s revised budget surplus at $1 billion as we head into the 2019 New Mexico Legislative session, the demands for new government spending are practically endless. RGF’s Paul Gessing sat down with Kai Porter of KOB TV Channel 4 to discuss the surplus and how policymakers should consider allocating those dollars.
Paul and Dowd preview the 2019 legislative session with newly-minted House Minority Leader Rep. James Townsend of Artesia.
They discuss whether the GOP can be effective given the significant minority that they represent in Santa Fe. More importantly Dowd and Paul discuss the budget situation, the role of oil and gas, potential anti-Right to Work legislation, and many other issues that will be discussed in the upcoming 60 day session.
Fresh off their justified refusal to move forward on an oil and gas ordinance, the Sandoval County Commission will be voting on Thursday evening at their meeting on big salary increases for certain government personnel. A little digging by the Rio Grande Foundation discovered that the proposed p$ay hikes will put affected Sandoval County salaries far above those of neighboring (and much larger) Bernalillo County. You can read the details on the salary hikes here.
For starters, it is worth noting that Bernalillo County has 676,773 while Sandoval County has 142,507 residents. Bernalillo County also has a great transparency website that you can find all this info which is listed below without benefits.
A Bernalillo County Commissioner earns: $29,569/year. If adopted, Sandoval County Commissioners will earn: $37,405/year.
Bernalillo County Sheriff Manny Gonzales makes $68,308/year. If adopted, Sandoval County’s incoming Sheriff Jesse James Casaus will make: $86,410/year.
Finally, Bernalillo County Sheriff Linda Stover makes $65,501. If adopted, Sandoval County’s Clerk will make $82,859/year.
It is hard to believe that these officials in a county with a much smaller population should make significantly more money than similar officials in a neighboring (more liberal) county. If you agree, you can reach the Commission here.
Update: Bernalillo County Commission recently voted to increase pay to levels similar to those being considered in Sandoval County.
(Albuquerque, NM) – Dr. Lisa Shin, a Los Alamos optometrist, has joined the board of directors of the Rio Grande Foundation, New Mexico’s free market think tank.
Said Rio Grande Foundation president Paul Gessing of the addition of Dr. Shin, “Lisa is a successful small business owner and health care provider who can bring a pragmatic, common sense approach to the issues facing New Mexico. These ideas are the only way this State can build a sustainable, prosperous economy.”
Gessing continued noting that, “Through her work both political and apolitical, Dr. Shin has shown that she shares the principled support for free market ideas based on individual choice and personal responsibility that have made America so successful.”
Dr. Shin added, “I am so pleased to join the Rio Grande Foundation’s board. The Foundation is New Mexico’s leading organization when it comes to making the intellectual case for free markets and individual liberty. When it comes to issues like the Santa Fe Soda Tax, Mandatory Paid Sick Leave in Albuquerque, and APS 19% Property Tax Hike, the Rio Grande Foundation has had and continues to have a tremendous impact. We need the Foundation now more than ever.”
Paul and Dowd lead off by discussing a recent study on charitable giving from Wallethub. The report ranks New Mexico 45th. Dowd has some concerns about methodology, but no matter what it is an opportunity to urge podcast listeners to support the Rio Grande Foundation and its mission on behalf of limited government and individual liberty in New Mexico. Besides, supporters can help prove Wallethub wrong.
The Rio Grande Foundation is working with the Liberty Justice Center which successfully won Mark Janus’ case at the US Supreme Court this summer. The group has filed suit asking the State of New Mexico to allow union members to opt out when they, not the union chooses and repay dues paid by those that felt coerced to join the union.
Dowd has some thoughts on the latest state budget numbers which will hopefully throw some cold water on voters’ spending desires during the 2019 session. He and Paul also address some issues that legislators are slowly revealing as their legislative priorities in advance of the 2019 session.
Finally, riots erupted in France, ostensibly over a new tax on carbon emissions. Liberal Washington State voters killed yet another carbon tax in November. Apparently taxing economic activity for supposed climate change benefits is deeply unpopular.
Last week KRWG’s Anthony Moreno interviewed Truth In Accounting’s Sheila Weinberg, who explained why the Land of Enchantment performs abysmally when it comes to “how transparent [states] are to the public about their finances.”
TIA’s recent “Financial Transparency Score Report” placed New Mexico just one slot above last-place Connecticut on “a range of transparency indicators.” Weinberg told Moreno that the state has been “historically issuing its financial statement late,” with a jaw-dropping 426-day tardiness for its fiscal 2012 comprehensive annual financial report (CAFR), and a not-much-improved 342-day delay for fiscal 2016. (The standard for governmental entities is 180 days, TIA’s founder and CEO noted, with private corporations abiding by a 45-day standard.)
As Governing noted a few years ago, CAFRs are “dense,” with “a mind-numbing array of charts, graphs and number columns” — and only “the hardiest of souls” explore them. It’s in the job description for policy wonks, though, and the Rio Grande Foundation annually does a deep dive into the latest tome. But as Weinberg argued, taxpayers willing to tackle CAFRs deserve to get them in a timely and accessible manner. For a long time now, that hasn’t been a option in New Mexico. Something that Governor-elect Michelle Lujan Grisham’s nominee to head the Department of Finance and Administration should address, quickly.
If you have followed the Rio Grande Foundation over the years, you may know that we have repeatedly expressed concerns about taxpayer-financed lobbying for higher taxes. See past articles here and here. Now, Albuquerque Public Schools has spent $25,000 (in addition to the $1,000,000 to hold the election itself) to “educate the voters on the “need” for a 19% property tax increase to fund new school construction and other capital projects.
Ballots will be mailed out in early January with the final tally on February 5, 2019.
The story is below. RGF president Paul Gessing is interviewed toward the end.
PRESS RELEASE from the
LIBERTY JUSTICE CENTER and
RIO GRANDE FOUNDATION
ALBUQUERQUE, NM (Dec. 10, 2018) –– New Mexico state employee Brett Hendrickson has filed a lawsuit against his government union, AFSCME, and the state of New Mexico for violating his First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association. Hendrickson is represented by attorneys from the Liberty Justice Center and the complaint is filed in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico.
Despite the decisive victory for workers’ rights in the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Janus v. AFSCME, Brett Hendrickson was blocked from exercising his right to resign membership from AFSCME Council 18.
The Liberty Justice Center represented Illinois state worker Mark Janus in Janus v. AFSCME. On June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Janus that it is illegal to require government workers to pay dues or fees to a government union as a condition of employment. The Court also required that government employers – including states, cities, counties, and school districts – obtain clear consent from an employee in order to collect any union dues or fees from that employee. Further, the Court said that consent cannot be assumed; it must be voluntary, knowing, and shown by clear and compelling evidence.
New Mexico plaintiff Brett Hendrickson is a quality control specialist for the New Mexico Human Services Department. He was unconstitutionally coerced to join AFSCME Council 18 and to pay union dues as a condition of his employment. Since the Janus decision, Hendrickson has inquired about his right to leave AFSCME and stop withholding union dues from his paycheck. Hendrickson was told he could only exercise his constitutional right to leave the union during a narrow period of time.
The state and AFSCME violated Hendrickson’s First Amendment rights to free speech and freedom of association by refusing to allow him to withdraw his union membership and by continuing to charge him union dues based solely on a union card that he signed before the Janus decision. That union card is now unenforceable.
The Liberty Justice Center is partnered with the Rio Grande Foundation to inform New Mexican government workers of their rights after the Janus v. AFSCME decision.
Brian Kelsey, senior attorney for the Liberty Justice Center said: “The U.S. Supreme Court has declared that government employees have a choice and a voice when it comes to union membership. AFSCME violated Mr. Hendrickson’s constitutional rights by forcing him to stay in the union against his will. AFSCME coerced Mr. Hendrickson into union membership and never offered him the option of being a non-member. In Janus v. AFSCME, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that government unions must receive clear, voluntary, and informed consent from government workers for membership. Liberty Justice Center is determined to see that these rights are respected throughout the United States.”
Brett Hendrickson, New Mexico state employee, offered the following comment: “I was never given a choice whether to be a member of AFSCME. It was clear to me that AFSCME membership was a job requirement. Now I want to be free to do my job and control where my money goes. My constitutional rights should not be limited to a certain time of year.”
Paul Gessing, President, Rio Grande Foundation, said: “The rights of New Mexico’s government workers are being ignored or blatantly undermined by government unions empowered by the state. The Rio Grande Foundation is focused on ensuring New Mexico’s government workers are free to exercise their constitutional rights. We are partnering with the Liberty Justice Center to inform New Mexico government workers of their rights after the Janus v. AFSCME decision.”
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The Liberty Justice Center is a nonprofit, nonpartisan public-interest litigation center that fights to protect economic liberty, private property rights, free speech, and other fundamental rights. First and foremost, the Liberty Justice Center seeks to ensure that the rights to earn a living and to start a business, which are essential to a free and prosperous society, are available not just to a politically privileged few, but to all. The Liberty Justice Center pursues its goals through strategic, precedent-setting litigation to revitalize constitutional restraints on government power and protections for individual rights. Learn more at LibertyJusticeCenter.org.
The Rio Grande Foundation is a research institute dedicated to increasing liberty and prosperity for all of New Mexico’s citizens. We do this by informing New Mexicans of the importance of individual freedom, limited government, and economic opportunity. Learn more at RioGrandeFoundation.org.
Is New Mexico really among the least-generous states in the nation? That’s the new finding of a report by Wallethub. Is this a free market issue? Of course it is. Not only does the Rio Grande Foundation depend on the support of individuals like yourself, but civil society in general requires the financial support of the population in order to flourish.
Unfortunately, when it comes to charitable giving, Wallethub has New Mexico ranked 45th, beating just Nevada, Rhode Island, Arizona, Louisiana, and Hawaii. Not surprisingly, Minnesota and Utah are at the top when it comes to generosity. See the map below:
The full report is worth a read. It covers a variety of giving from the financial to the giving of time. Either way, you can help New Mexico rise and help New Mexico become a freer place with a year-end contribution to the Rio Grande Foundation.
New Mexico’s oil and gas industry is the State’s dominant private sector industry (which does not federal government). Robert McEntyre handles communications for New Mexico Oil and Gas Association (NMOGA). This podcast addresses A number of important issues are facing the industry as 2018 ticks away. Sandoval County’s Commission just rejected an onerous anti-oil/gas ordinance but voters elected a slew of politicians who are rather skeptical of the industry, but are eager to spend the money it generates.
What does this all mean for average New Mexicans? Check out this week’s podcast below: