We all want a prosperous state, but prosperity requires investments. You can’t grow a garden without good soil, sunlight, water, and some hard work. Same with a state—you can’t have prosperity without resources, infrastructure, and a skilled workforce. But instead of following an investment strategy to prosperity, New Mexico has tried to cut its way to prosperity.
There is generally much less accountability when private companies run government programs. It becomes not only more difficult to determine just how our tax dollars are being spent, but there is also more room for subtle forms of discrimination to take place. By definition privatization means an economic focus on the use of public lands rather than a conservation and equity focus.
In reaction to the revenue shortfall that was created in large part by bad tax policy decisions, some lawmakers are looking to enact more bad policy. But sweeping up money from these special funds will endanger more than just common sense.
While all Americans should feel welcome to enjoy our nation’s natural and cultural treasures, data show that racial and ethnic groups are less likely to view our national parks as part of their heritage and birthright as Americans. This makes them less likely to visit these places. There are many reasons for this, including a lack of racial and ethnic diversity within the NPS staff.
It seems that every week there is a new story in the newspaper showing the consequences of choosing tax cuts for the powerful over public investment. One of the most egregious, which has a huge impact on public safety, is the backlog of thousands of rape kits with DNA evidence that have not been processed.
Our nation and our state must have the public infrastructure our businesses need in order to deliver their goods and services. This infrastructure includes a transportation network—from roads to railways to airports—a telecommunications network, and public works such as water and sewer systems and an electrical grid. All of these systems are vital for our modern economy and our quality of life. Building and maintaining them has the added advantage of creating jobs. Government has an important role in ensuring that this infrastructure is in place, and that it is safe, effective and accessible to everyone.
Dr. Arthur Rolnick—the keynote speaker at our 2014 NM KIDS COUNT Conference—made a compelling case for higher levels of investment in early childhood care and learning services. Many people in New Mexico agree that these kind of investments will help us improve the well-being of our children. Unfortunately, there has not been a consensus in Santa Fe on how to pay for these programs.
The proposal by Governor Martinez’s Human Services Department (HSD) to reinstate work requirements on recipients of food benefits is ill-considered and reflects an upside-down set of values, particularly in the face of an ongoing weak economy that is not producing jobs. The HSD plan to limit SNAP benefits unless the unemployed comply with job search and work requirements could cause families with children to lose benefits for up to a year. Childless adults who fail to complete 20 hours of work a week could lose SNAP for up to three years.
Changing tax rates nearly always has consequences, some of which are intended, some of which are not. If we are to believe anti-tax advocates, taxes inhibit economic development, distort our economy, and cause people to “vote with their feet” by moving to a place with lower rates. Usually these claims are mere assertions without data to support them. Could taxes be the reason that New Mexico has seen population growth stagnate in recent years after decades of growth? The answer is a resounding no, according to a new research report.
How much is a job worth in New Mexico? In fiscal year 2011 (July 1, 2010 through June 30, 2011) New Mexico taxpayers paid out $91.3 million in job subsidies for three “job creation” programs. Was it worth it? Unfortunately, we don’t know because very little information is available to citizens.