• Where is your inheritance?

    Most people who grew up during the Great Depression and World War II learned to scrimp and save as a matter of necessity.
    Many also gained financial security during subsequent decades when pension plans were more common, homeownership became the norm and government programs like Social Security and Medicare expanded.
    For a time, it seemed their Baby Boomer children stood to inherit amounts unheard of for previous generations.
    However, many economic factors have taken their toll on seniors’ nest eggs in recent years.
    Thus, if you were counting on a sizeable inheritance to help finance your own retirement, you may want to rethink that strategy.
    Here are several reasons why many seniors are revising their estate distribution plans:
    Most people who invested heavily in the stock market during the Great Recession watched helplessly as their accounts lost significant value. Although the market has mostly recovered, many people — especially those in or approaching retirement — stashed their remaining balances in safer investments earning very low interest, worried the market might plunge further.
    Many likely will have to draw on their account principal to make ends meet, thereby depleting their savings (and estates) much more rapidly than planned.

  • Governor still riding high

    Susana Martinez appears to have gotten just about everything she wanted for her finance program from the 2013 Legislature.
    An economic development proposal for corporate tax cuts and tax breaks was in trouble in both houses until she threatened to veto the Legislature’s appropriation bill.
    Suddenly the previously uncompromising governor became a tough compromising former district attorney.
    She tossed lawmakers the “Breaking Bad” tax break for the filming of television series plus an agreement to sign the appropriation bill.
    What happened in that negotiating session? We don’t know, but in the waning moments of the legislative session, the governor’s 35-page tax cut bill was trotted out on the floor of each house with little debate and no time to read the proposal.
    Democratic leaders House Speaker Kenny Martinez and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez were roundly criticized by many Democratic legislators for caving in to the governor.
    It is hard to figure. Did they not want a special session? Were there personal reasons? Did they not want the governor and her PAC going after them in their next election?
    One thing seems certain. Unless there are some real surprises in her bill, Gov. Martinez and her 60 percent approval ratings seem headed toward very likely reelection in 2014.

  • Tax deal can lead to compromise

    Bloggers and editorial writers have examined the Legislature’s love child — the surprise, last-second, tax package that looked like both parents — and hooted about transparency and back-room deals. 

    But the tax deal was a compromise, fair and square, and it was refreshing to see legislators stop jawboning and hustle to get it done. 

    It’s now being touted as “tax reform.” It’s not, and to be clear, it doesn’t raise all boats.

    From the beginning of the session, lawmakers focused on the economy. 

    The most serious proposals boiled down to a handful. Democrats wanted a minimum wage raise, a tax incentive for TV productions (the “Breaking Bad” bill) and capital outlay. 

  • Change plagues borderplex

    El Paso, Ciudad Juárez and Las Cruces are a region, one entity. The assertion grasps the remarkably obvious. Businesses in southern Doña Ana County and Juárez back up to one another. The Rio Grande, the nominal border between El Paso and Juárez, is often dry, posing little real barrier. Otero County and Alamogordo might be added with El Paso being the closest thing of size.

    The region is complicated. Northern New Mexico, commonly clueless about the south, might not understand this. To say the region consists of three states (Chihuahua, Texas and New Mexico) and two countries (Mexico and the United States) oversimplifies. There are counties and municipalities, water districts and basins and who knows what else.

  • Some pugilistic poetry

    Art often imitates life, and sometimes life imitates art. But when the artist is a poet, life is most often ridiculed than mimicked.
     When I was young, it seemed that the lure of poetry was limited to the “classics” — Frost, Blake, Dickinson, Thomas, Sandburg, Tennyson, Poe.
     Ah yes. The masters.
     One cannot deny the art of poetry when yelling not-so-gently to that good night, riding along with the six hundred of that light brigade into the valley of death, or considering whether or not to take that road less traveled.
     I remember thinking that someone should put Whitman’s “I hear America singing” to music, perhaps something with a nice patriotic chant. Or Lawson’s “Grey Wolves Grey” set to a spirited marching tune. Either that, or a nice jazz beat.
     And I still don’t understand why my English teacher marked me off for errors in punctuation and grammar. E.E. Cummings butchered the language and he was called a genius.
     But even with my usual disregard for anything that wasn’t math, I found myself admiring the sheer beauty of some poems. A poem of joy is indeed a thing of beauty.

  • Company well-schooled in lean manufacturing

    Henry Production Inc. of Farmington puts a premium on training.
    The 51-year-old company is a one-stop oilfield service company, selling and maintaining compressors and pumps used in the oil and natural gas industry, servicing and overhauling engines and fabricating skids and piping, among other things.
    Because machine technology is always changing, the company sponsors a 16-week class once a year to ensure its newer technicians understand the mechanical systems they’re working with. Even seasoned techs take refresher courses to stay on top of technological advances.
    The company also sends its employees to classes and workshops offered by the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership, a nonprofit that helps small and midsized U.S. businesses become more profitable by adopting streamlined processes of production and administration.
    All of the company’s
    100 employees have been trained in one or more aspects of lean manufacturing, and some have had more than one type of training, according to Anita Peralta, human resources manager.
    It’s all part of Henry Production’s effort to “make the process and work areas more efficient,” Peralta said. “When you’re efficient, you’re more productive” and productivity translates into profitability.
    All hands on deck

  • The grocery store

    Years ago, a small family-owned grocery store at the north end of Taos was known for having the best meat in town.
    The meat was always laid out on fresh butcher paper in immaculately clean, glass-fronted display cases.
    It was never pre-wrapped. You got to select exactly the piece you wanted, wrapped freshly for you by an employee, usually a member of the family. I bought most of my meat there, confident that it was clean and unspoiled.
    One of the owners told me about new government regulations requiring expensive refrigeration equipment they couldn’t afford.
    The equipment was intended to keep meat safe, but this store took good care of its meat without the extra equipment or the regulations. He asked, was this a move by the big supermarket chains to drive small family stores like theirs out of business?
    I didn’t think so. I reasoned that the chains wouldn’t mind, and might even welcome, a uniform set of rules.
    The rules would provide guidance to store managers, give them a standard, and probably also give direction to the equipment manufacturers.

  • NM among national leaders in people moving away

    Revised federal numbers show a few new jobs appearing in New Mexico during 2012. Original reports were of seven consecutive months of losses starting in June.
    The losses followed ten months of slight gains. The Bureau of Labor Statistics says the seasonally unadjusted wage job total for January was 793,600. The 3,500 job increase from January 2012 was 0.46 percent.
    Reviewing sector performance leaves one wondering about the source of the job growth. Only two sectors showed an increase that might not be a rounding error.
    Leisure and hospitality added 2,000 jobs, or 2.4 percent, over the year for a total of 84,000 jobs. The 1,500 job increase in financial activities brought the sector to 33,800 jobs. The increase was 4.6 percent.
    New Mexicans’ response to the slightly increasing job totals in 2011 and 2012 was acceleration of what began a year earlier, to leave the state.
    The decision to move, to “migrate” in the Census world, is significant and driven by economics, the long term opportunity to work and provide for the family. Pretty sunsets, rich culture, dry climate, even taxes, all are factors in our personal location decisions, but none pay the bills or educate the children.

  • Rio Grande del Norte designation means tourism dollars

    As a member of the New Mexico Green Chamber of Commerce, I was thrilled to hear about President Barack Obama’s decision to designate Rio Grande del Norte as a National Monument.
    Rio Grande del Norte is a northern New Mexico hotspot for recreation and tourism, offering a wide range of outdoor opportunities including hiking, hunting, fishing, rafting, and wildlife spotting and photography. Its 240,000 acres of public lands — including the Rio Grande Gorge, Ute Mountain, and the Taos Plateau — provide a combination of majestic scenery and a rare diversity of wildlife.
    It is truly one of the natural wonders of the Land of Enchantment. And now that it is a national monument, it is protected from harm for all time.
    Too often we forget that recreational pursuits related to tourism attractions like a national monument often mean a direct increase in revenue and jobs for New Mexicans.
    From hotels to outfitters to outdoor guides to the restaurants that show off New Mexico cuisine, this designation will be a major boon for the local economies of Taos and Rio Arriba counties.
    A recent study performed by BBC Research and Consulting found that approximately 325,000 people visit the Rio Grande del Norte annually.

  • Jobs package a good deal for all New Mexicans

    At the beginning of the session, I called on the Legislature to pass reforms making New Mexico more competitive with neighboring states.
    The mandatory cuts in Washington, D.C., will disproportionately hurt our state and while we will always fight to protect our labs and bases, we must simultaneously work to diversify our economy by building a stronger private sector.
    I’m pleased that by passing the New Mexico Jobs Package, we reached a bipartisan compromise that will help our economy grow by leveling the playing field with surrounding states.
    The New Mexico Jobs Package cuts the business tax rate from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent. The 7.6 percent rate is the highest in the region and at 5.9 percent, New Mexico will be more in line with neighboring states.
    This will help attract new job-creating businesses to our state and help existing businesses grow.
    The new reforms will also spur manufacturing by ending the practice of penalizing New Mexico manufacturers for exporting their goods to other states or countries.
    New Mexico leads the nation in export growth, and this tax reform will help build upon our success by encouraging existing manufacturers to expand while attracting new employers to our state.