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Business/Economy

  • Workers asked to pay more for retirement benefits

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State and local government workers and educators could see their take-home pay shrink in the next several years under proposals to have them contribute more out of their salaries for retirement benefits.

    Taxpayers also would chip in tens of millions of dollars under proposals endorsed by a legislative committee on Wednesday to shore up the long-term finances of two programs for public employees — a retirement system for educators and a separate program offering health insurance to retirees from state and local government jobs as well as public schools and universities.

    The measures will be forwarded to the Legislature to consider when it convenes in January for a 60-day session. Lawmakers and the governor must approve the proposals before higher payroll contributions would take effect.

  • NM gardening business closes after 29 years

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Santa Fe Greenhouses has closed its doors after 29 years, blaming a combination of drought, fire, the poor economy and competition from big box stores.

    The New Mexican reports the gardening business plans to sell its property to pay debts.

    Owner David Salman told the newspaper's accounting office in a letter last month that the company made drastic reductions in payroll, made cuts to plant and hard-good orders and reduced spending over the summer but it wasn't enough.

    Salman says sales had dipped by 20 percent in a two-month period earlier this year.

    Santa Fe Greenhouses' sister store High Country Gardens has also closed.

    Salman began the High Country Gardens catalog in 1993. That was followed by online operations in 2000. The operation specialized in low water-use plants.

  • NM cracks down on unemployment fraud

    SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico labor officials say they have cut the unemployment insurance fraud rate over the past year and continue to crack down on improper payments.

    The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions says the state now leads the nation in reducing improper payments. Between 2011 and 2012, the improper payment rate dropped to under 11 percent.

    Gov. Susana Martinez says the progress is a testament to her administration's commitment to cracking down on fraud and strengthening the system for businesses and workers.

    More initiatives are planned next year to keep fraud rates down.

    In January, the state will launch a new system under which jobless New Mexicans will be able to apply online for benefits. The system will also help employers by allowing them to electronically submit wage reports as well as pay taxes and track their accounts.

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  • Portales peanut butter plant plans to resume operations

    PORTALES, N.M. (AP) — The New Mexico peanut butter company that was shuttered after a salmonella outbreak is scheduled to resume peanut processing on Tuesday.

    Sunland Inc. spokeswoman Katalin Coburn says officials are eager to begin shelling and processing this year's crop, which is about 98 percent harvested.

    She says the company hopes to resume making peanut butter by the end of the year.

    Sunland shuttered its operations in Portales and began a top-to-bottom scrubbing in late September after salmonella was found in peanut butter it made for Trader Joe's. The company then issued a voluntary recall of hundreds of products. Forty-one illnesses in 20 states have been linked to the peanut butter.

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  • N.M. MainStreet: Shop local

    The New Mexico Economic Development Department and New Mexico MainStreet Program encourage holiday shoppers to shop local first this holiday season.
    New Mexico MainStreet Communities have launched a shop local campaign this holiday season to encourage citizens to shop downtown at their local main street businesses.
    “Local small businesses in MainStreet districts are the heart of so many New Mexico communities,” Economic Development Secretary John Barela said. “It takes risk and a lot hard work to open a business and by supporting these businesses this holiday season we will see the benefits all year long by having these local retailers locate in our downtowns.”
    Buying local benefits local communities by:
    • Retaining money in the community — each time that money is spent at locally owned businesses, more money is available to support other local businesses like retail stores, movie theaters, auto repair shops, restaurants, health services, etc., and more local jobs are created
    • Local businesses generate local jobs — income to those businesses is returned in the form of salaries, which are spent locally as well. And don’t forget all those youth team sponsorships, raffle items, high school scholarships and other investments in our community that are made by local merchants.

  • Court Order Preserves Hostess for Now
  • Forecasters: NM chances slim for winter moisture

    ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — Weather forecasters and state and federal water managers are painting a grim picture of the chances of drought-stricken New Mexico making up any ground this winter.

    It's early, but officials say the state is already starting off with half of the average snowpack for this time of year and weather models aren't offering any hope for more snow.

    Drought has a lock on nearly three-quarters of the West, including much of New Mexico.

    With no meaningful winter moisture, Bureau of Reclamation hydrologist Raymond Abeyta says this coming year will mark the lowest New Mexico reservoirs have ever been heading into an irrigation season.

    That means trouble for water users who have spent the last two years operating on rations. In southern New Mexico, home to the second biggest pecan crop in the nation, groundwater levels are already taking a hit.