There is talk in Washington over whether to reinstate earmarks in Congress (we oppose that). But after a difficult budget year in 2017 during which there was no “capital outlay bill” the bill aka “pork bill” has returned in full-force to New Mexico. You can read what they contain here.
The publication Stateline recently contacted the Foundation for comment on this issue. Here’s what RGF president Paul Gessing had to say:
Earmarks also persist in New Mexico.
Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation, an Albuquerque think tank espousing limited government, noted this year’s capital projects bill in New Mexico contains lots of bond issues and outlays for projects such as $14,100 for improvements to the Los Volcanes senior center in Albuquerque and $2 million for infrastructure improvements at Santa Fe community college. He has no quarrel with any of the projects individually, but with the process itself and what he says is a lack of oversight and vetting.
“These dollars are jealously guarded, especially in rural areas. For a lot of these legislators there’s not a heck of a lot going on in their districts,” Gessing said. “But obviously, more often than not, it tends to work for the benefit of narrow special interests and hurts John Q. Public.”
RGF has previously published Piglet books decrying the amount of narrow special interest spending that is undertaken in the New Mexico Legislature, but if there is money available, there will be pork.