The hand-wringing has begun. America’s new chief executive has signed off on a hiring freeze for the federal government, and predictably, New Mexico’s establishment is panicking.
In the Santa Fe New Mexican, U.S. Sen. Tom Udall whined that hiring freezes “hurt the American people and cost the taxpayers more money,” while Big Labor bigwig Jon Hendry wailed that the president “can’t expect to do everything he is expecting us to accomplish on a national basis and not give us resources to do it. There is no logic to that.”
A right-sizing of the federal bureaucracy — civilian staffers and contractors — is long overdue. But wherever one stands ideologically and politically, there’s no question that New Mexico is particularly susceptible to changes in federal personnel policy. The most recent analysis by the Fiscal Federalism Initiative of the Pew Charitable Trusts found that cash from D.C. accounts for a jaw-dropping 32.1 percent of the state’s gross domestic product. That’s more than double the figures for economic-development dynamos Texas (14.2 percent) and Utah (15.5 percent), and well above the comparable shares for Colorado (17.0 percent), Oklahoma (21.8 percent), and Arizona (24.4 percent).
New Mexico’s governor and state lawmakers should see the hiring freeze as an opportunity — a chance to finally adopt proven policies that will establish, once and for all, a vibrant private sector in the Land of Enchantment. Will they? Well, there’s always the 2019 session….