Interested in finding out what the candidates themselves felt about their performance in the debate. How about undecided voters? For some post-debate interviews and analysis, check out Capitol Report New Mexico. Post-game analysis from the candidates can be found here while thoughts from two undecided voters can be found here.
In case you missed it in person or on Channel 4 last night, the Rio Grande Foundation along with KOB TV Channel 4 and 770 KKOB hosted a televised debate — the only one I am aware of — between all 5 GOP candidates for Governor. While the candidates were by and large discussing their goals for New Mexico’s future and turning around the state, some sparks did fly.
Watch the entire debate here:
I have a fair amount of respect for the folks at Albuquerque Studios. After all, they plopped down a lot of private money to build their studios just south of Albuquerque. Certainly, they did this with the intent of taking advantage of New Mexico’s massively-subsidized film industry, but unlike the Santa Fe Studios which are again subsidized, the Albuquerque Studios themselves were not. Unfortunately, in a sign that the film industry is not economically-viable in New Mexico — perhaps even with massive taxpayer handouts — it has come to light that the folks at Albuquerque Studios owe $334,000 in unpaid property taxes. This comes on top of the Studios’ recent flirtation with bankruptcy.
If the film industry is so great, shouldn’t SOMEBODY in this state be able to create a going concern without directly relying on government handouts?
Oh, and then there is this nice analysis of that state’s film industry subsidies from our friends at the Mackinac Center, a free market think tank based in Michigan. Despite $117 million in film subsidies over two years, there are fewer people employed in the film industry now than before the program took effect!
With a new governor coming into office this November and the economy (and budget) still in the tank, now would seem to be a great time to discuss the future of the film subsidy program and whether we can eliminated or at least limit its negative impact on taxpayers.
But the new members on the SIC, due to their independence from Governor Richardson, and the new State Investment Officer, who also has newfound independence from the Fourth Floor of the Roundhouse, are also cause for hope. The latest report from New Mexico Watchdog on what’s happening with our $14 billion in permanent funds.
In his response to my Albuquerque Journal article last month, University of New Mexico president David Schmidly announced that UNM had “identified $6 million in cost-containment measures in developing its fiscal 2011 budget.”
The Strategic Advisory Team made a report, which included short term reductions (summarized by RGF’s Corey Davis):
Short term recommendations are as follows, preceded by estimated cost-savings:
$173,184–1% invoice discount with vendors by paying in 10 instead of 30 days from date of invoice;
$315,000–provide capital projects’ vendors with PDF instead of printed docs;
$83,000–eliminate water coolers in offices;
$198,532–obtain multiple bids for furniture acquisitions;
$1,000,000–standardize the purchase of computers through a Dell contract;
$280,000–shift printing from desktop printers (which require printer cartridges) to copier fleet;
$1,000,000–centrally purchase all Microsoft software licenses;
$500,000–identify incorrectly enrolled participants in the employer insurance plans;
$360,000–have part-time employees contribute to the ERB only when they are at least .25FTE;
$1,000,000–divert budgeted salaries for vacant positions back to the university (“Historical practice has been that some units have balanced their budgets using vacancy dollars. This will need to be addressed.” p. 15);
$20,000–reduce Academic Program Review operating budget;
$70,000–reorganize Provost’s Office;
$40,000–reduce Freshman Family Day budget;
$300,000–reduce Extended University’s Instruction & General allocation;
$269,532–reduce frequency of office cleaning;
$200,000–reduce UNM Foundation’s Instruction & General allocation.
What is interesting about this list is that it doesn’t appear to include any re-thinking of the academic programs at UNM. There appears to be no consideration of the possibility that the university could better serve New Mexicans by altering the degrees offered. Contrast this with University of Maine’s recent changes:
From a UMaine press release on May 4th:
- Elimination of the Dept. of Public Administration
- Suspension of the German and Latin language majors
- Suspension of the theatre major
- Suspension of the women’s studies major and graduate concentration in that discipline
- Reduction of music master’s degree concentrations from five to two, retaining music education and music performance while eliminating instrumental conducting, choral conducting and collaborative piano
- Downsizing of the Master of Arts in Teaching program
- Downsizing of the Center for Research and Evaluation in the College of Education and Human Development
- Consolidations in the College of Engineering, including the assignment of certain Dept. of Mechanical Engineering teaching responsibilities to faculty members in the School of Engineering Technology
- Elimination of bachelor’s degrees in aquaculture, wood science, forest operations and forest ecosystem science, folding those fields of study into other majors in more cost-effective way.
More about UMaine’s strategic plan can be found here.
The difference between strategic cutting and just “trimming the hedges” is that strategic cutting is done with an eye towards better opportunities whereas a little trimming is about doing basically whatever has been previously decided, just a little more efficiently. If the program is generally sound, these trimmings might be the appropriate course. But, with the state’s budget crisis, a more radical re-envisioning may be in order.
In the coming days I’ll explore UNM’s budget cuts to see if they actually are substantial and realizable.
With oil still spilling into the Gulf, the issue of BP’s (and Transocean’s) culpability is being discussed by policymakers in Washington and the states. I wrote about the lessons we should take from the oil spill awhile back over at the Independent Forum. Among other points, I argued that Congress should not retroactively increase BP’s liability for the spill (as the Obama Administration is proposing).
That said, I don’t think BP’s liability should have been curtailed by Congress in the first place. As libertarian writer Sheldon Richman points out, weak and poorly administered government regulations and liability protections are part of the corporatist model that America is increasingly pursuing. This is not free market capitalism!
As Richman points out:
Those who see “tougher” government regulation as the answer are evading some formidable objections. First is the knowledge problem. Empowering regulators to prevent the next disaster tells us nothing about how they would know what to do without imposing costs that would dwarf any benefits.
Second is “regulatory capture.” Regulators and the industries they oversee develop mutually beneficial relationships that would appall those who idealize regulators as watchdogs. The rules that emerge from those relationships tend to foster more monopolistic industries.
Accidents happen, but they’ll happen less often and be less severe if the responsible parties are truly held responsible. Read Richman’s full article on BP and Transocean here.
Thousands of petitions (including mine) were submitted to Attorney General Gary King. But, despite the fact that 21 other states have filed suit against the recently-passed health care bill and 63% of Americans favor its repeal, King has not lifted so much as a finger to take action to stop the health care bill from being implemented.
As Sylvia Bokor of the Albuquerque Tea Party writes, the bill “violates individual rights. It forces Americans to buy a product. It violates the First, Fourth and Tenth amendments. It is replete with “mandates” that increase near-total control of American lives. It interferes in the relationship between doctor and patient. It will cause a decrease in medical practitioners, research, innovation and quality of medical service.
The health care bill is among the most impactful pieces of legislation ever passed. It is of highly questionable constitutionality, but King will do nothing to question or challenge it.
According to this excellent video from PJTV, the new Iron Man movie is quite pro-capitalist. The video not only analyzes the messages of the movie but shows Dr. Milton Friedman at his very best by explaining capitalism to Phil Donahue.
Check the video out here.
Hat tip to Steve McAllister.
Did you know that Albuquerque taxpayers are subsidizing golfers? Taxpayers of Albuquerque, the major city with the highest property tax burden (check pages 3 and 4) in New Mexico, are paying for General Obligation bonds to install a new, $1.5 million irrigation system at Ladera Golf Course Taxpayers are paying an additional $500,000 for other city golf courses (according to an article on page 9 of this publication). This, despite the fact that city golf courses are supposed to be operated as an “enterprise” within the city budget.
The problem is that greens crews at Ladera and the other municipal golf courses in Albuquerque (Arroyo del Oso, Los Altos, and Puerto del Sol) all hire highly-paid, unionized city workers (read the article at the top of page 21 of this publication). Worse, at least at Ladera, the unionized grounds keepers (making $18 to $20 to cut grass) have repeatedly damaged the golf course, making it less playable and, perhaps even resulting in costly repairs.
I just wrote about the need for government efficiency and specifically mentioned golf courses as an area of improvement through privatization. Perhaps Albuquerque could take a lesson (just this one time) from Detroit, where the city has privatized golf course management and actually earned $250,000 annually on its golf courses rather than asking overburdened taxpayers for ever-more. With workers paid at private rates and more flexible work rules, I’ll bet Albuquerque’s golf courses, located in a far better climate than Detroit’s, could turn a profit and become truly first-class courses as well.