Leave it up to Bill Richardson and New Mexico’s government to construct a fancy $200+ million taxpayer-financed Spaceport without making sure that New Mexico’s laws are in order to make the project a success. Richard Branson recently stated that he has “quit counting the days” to first launch and that it is at least “12-18 months away,” an eternity in the business world. In other words, “who knows” if and when Virgin Galactic will truly use Spaceport America as a launch site, thus, hopefully spurring economic growth in southern New Mexico?
Interestingly, back in 2009, Virgin was saying “18 months” to launch. While this is starting to feel a bit like Lucy and the football, it is hard to blame Virgin for wanting to have liability protections in place for parts suppliers. Of course, they knew at the outset that New Mexico’s legal climate was close to that of a third world country, that we have high taxes, high crime, and bad schools, but they had nothing to lose since New Mexico taxpayers were on the hook for the project anyway.
A note to state policymakers: before blowing taxpayer dollars on speculative ventures like spaceports, let’s get the basics of good government under control. Let’s reform our legal and criminal justice systems, reduce tax burdens on businesses and entrepreneurs, and improve our schools. Until we do the basics, the success of ventures like the Spaceport are just a mirage.