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Today's Opinions

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • Government should tighten belt, not raise taxes

    BY REP. RICK LITTLE
    New Mexico House of Representatives, R-Doña Ana and Otero Counties

  • Congress should ensure broadband can’t pick winners and losers online

    This editorial appeared in The Los Angeles Times April 19.

    Under its last chairman, Democrat Tom Wheeler, the Federal Communications Commission dramatically ramped up its regulation of telecommunications companies, especially those that provide broadband Internet access to the home. The commission adopted rules to preserve net neutrality, limit the collection and use of data about where people go online and subsidize broadband access services, while also slapping conditions on or flat-out opposing mergers between major broadband companies.
    Although the telecom industry resisted many of these steps as heavy handed and overly restrictive, Internet users, consumer groups and scores of companies that offer content, apps and services online welcomed them as prudent limits on broadband providers who face too little competition. And they’re right about that – far too many consumers today have only one or two practical options for high-speed Internet access at their homes today.

  • The consequences of Susana Martinez’s decision to destroy higher education

    A few weeks ago, Susana Martinez vetoed funding for every state college and university. All of it.

    Since then, neither she nor House Republican leaders have proposed a plan to restore it. Because every public school relies on New Mexico for 30 percent-50 percent of their budgets, if not changed this decision will annihilate them.

    What does this mean for you? Plenty.Without funding, schools will either completely shut down or offer dramatically less education for much higher tuition; meaning many of our kids will have to go away for university. We will then have a less educated workforce, like engineers to design our roads, accountants for our businesses, and doctors to take care of us when we are sick.

    Furthermore, two-year schools provide technical programs for well-paid, steady careers like commercial truck drivers, welders, and X-ray techs. Those, as well as specialized classes for wind energy at Mesalands Community College in Tucumcari and aviation maintenance at ENMU-Roswell, could disappear.

    And does your child participate in a high school dual-credit course? Those are probably gone.

    The governor’s veto will obliterate jobs. Businesses start and grow where they can find people educated in areas like the ones described above; so they won’t start or grow here when those programs vanish.

  • Shaking the money tree in D.C.

    BY BOB HAGAN
    Coffee on a Cold Morning

  • Continuous improvement helps Belen manufacturer go global

    Sisneros Brothers Manufacturing embodies the entrepreneurial notion that finding the right niche can transform talent into business success.
    Avenicio Sisneros, founder of the Belen company, began as a cabinetmaker in the 1950s but shifted to making and installing sheet metal ducting for houses in 1987. With him were sons Martin, Alex and Philip.
    Demand quickly grew beyond the residential market, and the company began manufacturing and installing ductwork for larger commercial customers. By 1990, Sisneros Brothers abandoned installation altogether to focus on manufacturing custom sheet metal ductwork for a wide variety of customers.
    In 2001, the Sisneros leadership team consulted the New Mexico Manufacturing Extension Partnership (NM MEP) to get ideas about streamlining production and eliminating inefficiencies. The nonprofit organization helps businesses increase profitability and competitiveness, transforming them into lean and efficient engines of growth.
    The results of NM MEP-inspired changes impressed company principals, and Sisneros Brothers returned to NM MEP a decade later when CEO Martin Sisneros decided it was time to grow and diversify the customer base.

  • Judge Gorsuch rates applause for decisions in Indian Country

    Indian Country, surprisingly, supports the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U. S. Supreme Court.
    The Native American Rights Fund and the National Congress of American Indians recently endorsed the nominee. NARF, in case you haven’t heard of it, has been at the forefront of Indian law for nearly a half century.
    “Judge Gorsuch has significantly more experience with Indian law cases than any other recent Supreme Court nominee,” NARF informed tribal leaders recently.
    That high praise and a number of tribal endorsements (including the Navajo Nation), have transformed Gorsuch into something of a hero among Native American rights advocates, but it may be premature.
    During his years on the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals Gorsuch has participated in 39 Indian cases, of which 28 involved significant questions of Indian law.
    Out of those 28 cases, tribal interests won 16, or 57 percent, NARF said.
    The late Justice Antonin Scalia routinely opposed tribal interests, and the rest of the Supremes haven’t been receptive to tribal arguments, so Gorsuch compares favorably.
    Most important to tribes is the concept of tribal sovereignty.
    Tribal sovereignty is one of those concepts that freshman legislators and lawyers new to the Southwest trip over once.