Editorial content. Content posted here may or may not reflect the opinions of the Beat. They reflect the opinions of the author.
Every year the swallows return to Capistrano and every year some members of the New Mexico legislature complain about not receiving a salary. New Mexico is the only state in the nation whose legislators do not receive a salary. Instead, they receive a stipend based on the cost of living in Santa Fe. We are months away from the next regular legislative session but the grousing has already begun.
Whenever legislators complain about not receiving a salary, they never mention their very generous pension benefits. This article will show you how generous those benefits are.
The primary statutes controlling NM legislators' retirement plan are contained in NMSA 10-11-43.1 through 10-11-43.5. The pension amount is determined by multiplying the per diem rate for Santa Fe times 11 percent times 60, times years of service. The federal per diem for Santa Fe is currently $194 per day. From 2012 until 2018, legislators only contributed $600 per year to the plan. Since 2018, contributions have increased to $1000 per year. Most significantly, after a legislator has served for 10 years, he can retire and immediately begin receiving a pension regardless of his age. Let me show you how expensive this can be for taxpayers.
By Steven A. Chavira, Executive Officer, Grant County Chamber of Commerce
I've been watching with interest the unfolding of the AVANGRID/PNM merger. Silver City and Grant County are in the PNM service territory. And the southwestern part of New Mexico is some of the sunniest and windiest parts of the state. A company like AVANGRID being interested in New Mexico is a huge win for our state. They are national leaders in renewable energy, and that's good for everyone.
On the table is a package with $73 million in benefits to ratepayers – you and me. $50 million of that is a direct benefit to everyone with savings on our utility bills for the next three years. The remaining $23 million goes to those who need it most: those who lack resources for energy efficiency, those who owe money to PNM for arrearages during the pandemic, and those who do not even have access to the grid. That money will benefit many of Grant County's residents.
The Beat has received a complaint about the [Editor's Notes:] that appear occasionally inside articles about the Grant County Commission and that they seem to single out a particular commissioner. More frequently, I hear from people that they appreciate the editor's notes because they explain things that might not have been part of the narrative of the meeting.
We believe that when someone signs up to run for and potentially be elected to a position, such as the county commissioner, that the individual must be willing to do homework, study the agendas and the items that are part of the agenda, learn about the position, what it demands and keep up with the continuously moving parts of a county government. Over the many years of observing these commissioners and the more than two years of this commissioner, it has become obvious that this particular individual is basically derelict in his duties.
Albuquerque, July 23—The Republican Party of New Mexico is denouncing Gov. Lujan Grisham for ignoring the ongoing crisis at the Southern border.
In the first two weeks of July, there was a 900% increase in the number of illegal immigrants testing positive for COVID-19. This crisis continues to threaten the health and well-being of New Mexicans.
It's shameful that our Governor sits idle while other states respond.
Now Maine has announced it's sending its National Guard to help agents with the surge of migrants trying to enter the United States. Maine will deploy 125 troops to the Mexico border.
The fact that the National Guard from Maine—some 2,500 miles away--is going to the Southern border while New Mexico's governor does nothing is shocking and inexcusable.
Albuquerque – The following is a statement from Western States Director Larry Behrens in response to Senator Martin Heinrich's vote for Tracy Stone-Manning to lead the Bureau of Land Management:
"It is outrageous that Senator Heinrich believes someone involved in eco-terrorism and then lying to Congress is fit to lead an agency so critical to New Mexico. Senator Heinrich is elected to serve all the people of our state, but it's clear he feels radical environmentalists are his real constituents."
By Paul J. Gessing
For most Americans natural gas is a clean and affordable fuel they use to cook, heat their water, and provide warmth in the winter. Millions of Americans appreciate its benefits, even if they don't think about them very often.
Just because you don't think about natural gas doesn't mean radical environmentalists (including New Mexico's senior US Senator Martin Heinrich) aren't. In fact, Senator Heinrich recently wrote in the New York Times that "working to electrify our vehicles, homes and businesses is a critical part of achieving economywide net-zero emissions."
During the 1930s New Deal "electrification" meant helping people in rural and impoverished areas who didn't have access to the grid, get electricity. That was a worthwhile effort to improve lives, and our rural electric co-ops are an outgrowth of that effort.
Unfortunately, to Senator Heinrich and his well-funded allies in the "environmental" movement, "electrification" means a government-enforced abandonment of natural gas in homes and businesses (and gasoline in cars) to a 100% electricity-based energy system.
Heinrich is pushing legislation in Congress and for funding in the "infrastructure" bill for "electrification" – which is really another way of saying phasing out or even banning your natural gas stove, oven, and furnace.
As New Mexico slowly stirs from its self- induced Covid coma, it finds itself with the highest unemployment rate in the country. Surrounding states are bustling with economic activity while New Mexico yawns and stretches after its long and deep sleep. As is always the case, our politicos bemoan our lack of economic diversification and promise to bring jobs and economic development to the state. Their chances of success are most likely doomed.
In the race to attract private business to the state, New Mexico is primarily competing against the five surrounding states of Arizona, Utah, Colorado, Oklahoma and Texas. In category after important category, New Mexico is not even in the same league. Here are just a few examples:
1. all of the surrounding states have better K-12 public education systems. The NM public education system has been ranked worst in the country and shows no sign of improvement;
2. all the surrounding states have better state university systems. Of the seven state universities in NM that grant four- year degrees, only one is ranked in the top five-hundred academically in the U.S. (NMSU, #484);
3. all of the bordering states have lower crime rates. NM is #1 in the country for per capita property crime and #2 for violent crime. Albuquerque is on its way to having one of the highest homicide rates in the country;
Conservatives like infrastructure. But this bill has problems.
The federal infrastructure bill recently passed in the U.S. House. It had bipartisan support in the Senate – until President Biden, Speaker Pelosi and Senator Schumer stated they would try to pass the American Families Act using the reconciliation process, to avoid needing any Republican support. Now, Senate Republicans are taking a second look at the infrastructure bill – and we should too.
The authority for Congress and the President to support infrastructure falls under the U.S. Constitution, Article 1, Section 8, which states, "To regulate Commerce with foreign Nations, and among the several States, and with the Indian Tribes." To further clarify, the Tenth Amendment states, "The powers not delegated to the United Sates by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people." Therefore, the infrastructure bill should be limited to concerns of commerce between the states.
The infrastructure bill includes billions for electric buses and charging stations for electric vehicles. Neither of these are interstate commerce. Nor do these two activities make "energy sense." In the past year, Americans have experienced rolling blackouts and brownouts from summer heat and winter cold. The infrastructure bill will increase electrical demand on already over-burdened electrical generating system. It's like handing out debit cards for empty bank accounts.
If the federal government's priority is to support electrical battery powered vehicles, it should encourage – not hinder – the development of high-capacity vehicle batteries, and "base load" electrical power generation that does not contribute to greenhouse gases but also is not dependent on wind or daylight. This encouragement is within the federal government's responsibility as noted in Article 1 of the Constitution.