State strategy appears same-old, same-old, sort Of

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By Harold Morgan

The strategy thing is that leaders must figure out the strategy. The strategy thing itself means making the best possible use of resources. But people must pose the choices, sell those choices to everyone involved and then execute.
For New Mexico’s state government we do have a strategy of sorts. Whether this strategy offers the best possible use of our resources is another question entirely. The strategy comes from a committee, the Legislative Finance Committee. Strategies from committees are by definition less than ideal. Even so, this is what we have.
In the “2013 Post-Session Review,” published in May, the LFC said, “The LFC’s FY14 budget guidelines proposed a balanced approach of maintaining general fund reserves above 10 percent while prioritizing services for education, early childhood investment, public health and safety, and protections for vulnerable citizens.”
Recommendations from Gov. Susana Martinez “were strikingly similar.”
The state’s strategy appears to be doing pretty much what we’ve been doing.
A more recent statement from the Governor’s Office fell well within the administration’s small ball approach. The statement ran July 2 in the blog of Steve Terrell, political writer at The New Mexican in Santa Fe. It responded to a report that Gov. Susana Martinez was next to last among governors in “job creation.”
The statement repeated the old wail of “far too dependent on federal spending.” The general speciousness of the notion, as stated, is a recurring theme in this column. The statement claimed other things, some irrelevant (the unemployment rate), some of slight immediate impact (tax changes), and only one with any broader impact (the Santa Teresa boom).
We have seen leadership.
In 1982 Albuquerque was in one of those exchanges about bridges over the Rio Grande. The enviros and the aesthetes tore their hair over “threats” to the pristine bosque, the cottonwood forest along the river. Everyone else said traffic was a mess and the West Side couldn’t grow. Therefore we need more bridges.
Also in 1982 William G. “Bing” Grady was president of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce. Grady was also president of the state’s biggest bank, then Albuquerque National Bank. Grady, a West Side resident, said to his friend, chamber vice president Roy Bidwell, we’re going to do bridges.
Single mindedly, they did bridges. Enduring much grief along the way, Grady and Bidwell very publically put together the coalitions, got the attention of the Legislature and the governor, by then Toney Anaya, and got the money for what became the Paseo del Norte bridge.
Today, Albuquerque’s quiet mayor, Richard Berry, has found most of the money to rebuild the interchange of Paseo del Norte with Interstate 25. Gee, Berry may be a “leader.”
Leadership is around. T. Greg Merrion walks the line between giving big bucks to Republican candidates and pushing “nonpartisan voter education” via the New Mexico Prosperity Project (newmexicoprosperity.org). Some Democrats fail to see the difference, I gather. Harvey Yates spent much money and time on conservative candidates of either party and on the Republican Party. Diane Denish found the lieutenant governor position a vehicle for action.
Meanwhile, in the July New Mexico Business Outlook from New Mexico State University, Dr. Chris Erickson brought additional insight to our deep economic troubles.
Erickson compared national and state job numbers from 2002 through 2012.
“While total employment grew faster in New Mexico, output grew slower,” he said. “This means that New Mexico productivity” lags the nation, “a potential problem as productivity is among the most important things employers look for when determining where to locate or expand a business.”
My fantasy is someone smart, articulate, independent and with money. Scott Walker? Oops, he’s governor of Wisconsin. Bill Sanders? Oops, he’s from El Paso.