While Santa Fe has yet to adopt a budget for the state’s upcoming fiscal year, another expenditure plan — the White House’s multi-trillion-dollar list of what it wants to spend in the new federal fiscal year — was released last week.
For a glimpse at how dependent New Mexico is on D.C., look no further than the press release U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich issued in response. The fedpol hysterically asserted that the budget did not reflect “our core values and principles,” and “would be devastating for New Mexico.”
Heinrich picked a curious item to place at the top of his litany of complaints. His first gripe was the president’s proposal to eliminate funding for the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant. The senator’s love for the program notwithstanding, it’s a well-documented disaster. The Reason Foundation’s Victor Nava noted that “waste, fraud, and corruption [are] continually seen” with CDBG projects. The Cato Institute documented “a history of financial abuse and dubious … spending,” including a marina, renovations to a ski chalet, a shooting range, an off-track-betting facility, and “a festival to celebrate a shopping center.” There’s no shortage of documentation to justify CDBG’s richly deserved death: inspector general audits, reports from the Government Accountability Office, state investigations, exposés by the print and broadcast media.
Heinrich couldn’t be bothered to notice, but there’s a prime example of CDBG chicanery right here in his “home” state. In November, KRQE reported that the City of Albuquerque was asked to give Washington back “nearly a million dollars,” due to a “multitude of issues” regarding its handling of programs that received HUD funds. The bureaucracy now considers Albuquerque a “high risk” for grants, meaning that if reforms aren’t made, federal housing officials might freeze the city’s “ability to draw down from its HUD accounts.”
Heinrich’s tale of woe starts poorly, and gets worse. Energy subsidies, goodies from the Department of Education, the Community Services Block Grant, Amtrak, “public lands,” AmeriCorps — the shrieking is intense, because the chief executive “is not committed to the success of hard working families and our rural communities.”
In addition to checking in on waste and mismanagement of federal funds in New Mexico, the state’s junior senator should also click here. He’ll learn that the national debt, not counting unfunded pension and healthcare liabilities, is just shy of $20 trillion.
There are things to like and dislike about the president’s budget proposal, but no one can deny that the river of revenue flowing from D.C. to the Land of Enchantment will one day run dry. Isn’t it best to accept reality sooner rather than later, and begin implementing policies to ensure that New Mexico can stand on its own?