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Columns

  • Hang on to your socks, it’s May

    Can you believe we have arrived at May? As friend of mine use to say, “Hang onto your socks.”

    If you’re the parents of a senior, enjoy every breath taking moment and hold your breath or at least your tongue, when you wonder just for a moment how your senior would forget to do, say or tell you that. 

    You may find a point where you question your parenting because you are pretty sure you taught them this or that, just chalk it up to the old saying, “It’s May.”

    One of the most important things to be aware of is Mental Health Awareness month. It doesn’t matter if we’re talking about someone five, 55 or a 105, try and cut everyone some slack as pressures heat up and tensions never seem to cool down.

    Somehow it will all get done and we think it will slow down, but alas, it won’t, we just like to think it might for a minute or two.

    The 40 Developmental Assets have never been more important for this time of year, this moment in time, this place in history. We have to rally around our community members, our youth and help them build resilience factors or Assets.

  • Recreation Bond is not justified

    Lke any tax increase, the “Recreation Bond” deserves careful scrutiny. A tax should be for a legitimate valuable public purpose. There should be reasonable expectation the funds will be well used. And there should be no other reasonable alternative to further burdening citizen taxpayers. The Public School and UNM-LA mill levies in January were among the rare tax proposals that satisfy these three criteria (reference Jan. 18 column). This one does not.

    “More recreation facilities” sounds good. 

    What we really need is a different mix of recreational venues. We keep adding new ones, but rarely prune those no longer well utilized. Our demographics have changed. We have fewer young people, the biggest users. Sadly, physical activity is less per person, too. And tastes are more diverse. Baseball, softball, tennis, and golf are not nearly as popular as they were half a century ago. Yet, we build and maintain facilities as though they were. Build a new ice rink and keep the old one? Let’s get real.

  • We need state tax reform but let’s be clear that it won’t be easy

    Many of us cheered Rep. Jason Harper’s tax reform bill in the recent legislative session. The Rio Rancho Republican, an engineer, had taken on the state’s knotty gross receipts tax, a burden to business, consumers and economic development.
    Harper proposed to dump most gross receipts tax breaks and levy one fair tax on everyone. It was significant that two Democratic heavyweights, the chair and vice chair of the Senate Finance Committee, signed on as sponsors.
    But complicated bills face an uphill struggle in Santa Fe, and this one was no exception. Majority Dems incorporated pieces of the Harper bill and proposed a multi-year phase-in.
    Now the governor has seized on tax reform as a way to balance the budget – and salvage her legacy.
    The governor has been on the road bashing Dems for passing tax increases. She took another swing at them during the nonpartisan New Mexico Tax Research Institute’s annual conference when she called legislators childish. This from an executive who vetoed the entire higher education budget.

  • Diversifying economy means action, not words

    An unflattering picture of President Trump appears a few pages from the end of Jerry Pacheco’s current presentation about the Santa Teresa Port of Entry with Mexico. Above the photo are the words, “The future?”
    No other state has as much at stake these days as does New Mexico with the stuff about Mexico coming from Washington, D.C., Pacheco says.
    People along the United States-Mexico border are uncertain—that’s the nicest way to put it—as they look into a murky future reflecting the outlandish, absurd Trump statements about tariffs, the NAFTA treaty, and building a wall along the border.
    Mexicans are angry, insulted. Public statements are few, though, lest a firm provoke one of Trump’s nasty Twitter comments.
    Pacheco has a constantly evolving Santa Teresa presentation because he is president of the Border Industrial Association (nmbia.org), which, with 115 members, has become New Mexico’s largest industrial association. He is also executive director of the International Business Accelerator (nmiba.com), part of the state’s small business development center network.

  • Jobs bills moving despite partisan wrangling

    Lawmakers are more focused on job creation in this legislative session, but jobs bills still get high-centered on ideological speed bumps.
    The Democrats this year offered a six-part plan that’s a shade better than their past packages. They would spend $63 million in capital outlay on infrastructure repairs and improvements, pass a modest minimum wage increase, increase broadband access, allow industrial hemp research, and try to open economic development incentives to home-grown businesses.
    Of the bunch, only broadband would be a home run.
    This year’s capital outlay has already seen partisan wrangling. A Republican lawmaker proposed giving up capital outlay to help stanch red ink, an interesting idea considering the problems with our capital outlay process. Democrats refused, and the governor bashed them for refusing.
    Capital outlay is a different creature in the rural areas. While the cities might forego their public works money for a year, smaller communities rely on it for needed projects. And the spending is a form of stimulus. Just ask the state’s construction companies.
    A minimum wage increase isn’t economic development, but it needs to happen. Our current rate is $7.50, and lots of states are higher.  

  • Two New Mexico cities put values on display

    How do you want people to think about your community?
    If you live in Carlsbad, the nation currently knows your town through a Facebook post. If you live in Santa Fe, the nation has heard about Santa Fe’s declaration as a sanctuary city.
     In case you were abducted by aliens, Carlsbad City Councilor J. R. Doporto said on Facebook: “Just want to give a heads up to the women! You have rights! A right to cook and a right to clean. Today is Sunday and the NFL playoffs our (sic) on! I suggest you stop your b!tch!ng/protesting during this time. Because you also have a right to get slapped!”
    For that, he lost his job.
    Doporto has said he was just joking and claims his right to freedom of speech has been violated. His wife says he’s a good husband and father.
    I’m not going to rant about the post – plenty of other people have done that. My concern – and I write about this periodically – is how New Mexico is perceived on the outside.
    Doporto’s post made news all over New Mexico and, after Cox Media Group and the Huffington Post picked it up, across the nation. For a community that’s dependent in part on tourists, this isn’t healthy.

  • ABQ income rank down, Mora income up and people still leaving

    Topics this week: How many of us are there? How has our population changed? How much money do we make in each county? Population numbers come from the Census Bureau. Money numbers are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.
    A non-federal number gets us started. Albuquerque’s population is projected to be 919,854 as of Jan. 1, 2018, up a slight 5,028, or 0.5 percent, from 914,826 to start 2017. The figures come from American City Business Journals, publisher of “Albuquerque Business First,” a weekly. Love the specificity. Also the immediacy.
    Translated, Albuquerque’s population will be flat for 2017. Presumably this is metro Albuquerque, though American City doesn’t say.
    The federal numbers folks aren’t much into projecting. They wait a while for some early figures to supply the computers. The newest federal numbers are for July 1, 2016.
    New Mexico’s population grew 687 from July 1, 2015, to July 1, 2016. That means no growth at all, maybe even a decline because the miniscule 687 is an estimate within a range. The “growth” happened only because busy New Mexicans added more babies to the population – an estimated 25,491 during the 2015-2016 year – than there were subtractions because people died. The gain was 7,692.

  • Assets In Action: Many local youth recognized in 2016

    As we round out 2016, we see the final nomination for the year with our Community Youth award. The award was started after the annual community award event did not garner the name of a single youth.
    After it was announced, many people they would have nominated someone if they had only known.
    The truth is, I could have fixed the error myself, nominated a youth anonymously and then the “problem,” would have never existed. It was more important that we let the community know that as adults we slipped a little bit, we weren’t paying attention or didn’t take a minute to let someone know.
    So after the annual Community Asset Award event, the Champions of Youth Ambitions (C’YA) board understood the importance of highlighting the great things youth were and are doing all year long.
    It isn’t always about grades or sports, it is about the character, the connection and the good deed that often fail to go, perhaps unnoticed each day. So we started an opportunity for folks to notice for youth to get heralded in some small way, and avail the opportunity throughout the entire year.
    Which leads us to one Josh Fuller. Fuller is a local freshman that participated in the youth leadership program called WEB Crew as an eighth-grader and continues to blossom into his high school years and Joy Freymiller Rhodes made sure you knew.

  • ‘Don’t-cut-me’ emails don’t help as state revenues plunge

    “Not very good,” said David Abbey, describing the state’s economy. He switched to “bad” for further descriptions of matters such as job (non)growth. 

    Abbey, executive director of the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC), was in his traditional program start slot at the annual legislative outlook conference of the New Mexico Tax Research Institute. It was five days before Christmas. 

    Not that the state’s situation was good last summer, but things deteriorated between the August consensus forecast and December. The August forecast was 1.7 percent job growth during the current budget year, FY 17, that ends June 30, 2017. Zero was the December job growth forecast. The December forecast for wage and salary growth was 0.7 percent, a quarter of the August estimate. Gross state product growth now figures at 40 percent of the August forecast.

  • Vaping industry meets resistance in Congress

    BY PAUL J. GESSING
    Rio Grande Foundation