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By Danny Seymour

A study released recently by the consulting firm Moss Adams made headlines with the rather implausible claim that Spaceport America began producing net economic and fiscal benefits for New Mexico as early as 2013. Since its anchor tenant, Virgin Galactic, has yet to launch a single manned space tourism flight, the Rio Grande Foundation undertook a detailed critique of these claims, relying on the audited financial statements from the Spaceport Authority and Capital Spending Records.

Using these publicly available data along with information from the Moss Adams report, which were not previously available (such as estimates of Virgin Galactic’s spending on employee relocation), we estimate the Spaceport project has cost taxpayers roughly $275 million while generating just $54.3 million in income over the last 12 years. The Spaceport’s audited financial statements do not list any revenue other than taxes and transfers from the State government before 2015, making the 2013 breakeven date presented to the media especially egregious.

Socialist New York Congresswoman Introduces Bill to Ban All Fracking – New Mexico Representatives Silent

Albuquerque – New Mexico’s families deserve to know where their representatives stand when it comes to a disastrous new proposal from New York Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. On Wednesday, the self-described “democratic socialist” introduced a bill to ban fracking throughout the United States. New Mexico’s three House members Rep. Deb Haaland, Rep. Ben Ray Lujan and Rep. Xochitl Torres Small have not taken a position on the proposal.

Legislators Introduce HB 357 to Kill SW New Mexico's Future

Dear Agriculture and Water Committee Members,

The opponents to recovering water lost in the Arizona v. California Supreme Court Decree have conned legislators into again proposing legislation to strip funding from water projects in Southwest New Mexico. House Bill 357 calls for prohibiting the use of the New Mexico Unit Fund for any water diversion projects or administration costs of the CAP Entity.

In December opponents celebrated their success in leveraging their political influence to delay planning and implementation of water development projects for over four decades. On December 20 the Secretary of Interior denied a request for an extension to reach a record of decision on the environmental impacts of proposed projects. The effect of the denial is the loss of up to 62 million dollars in construction funds. Those funds will now be spent developing water in Arizona.

By Etta Pettijohn

A bill that would almost triple New Mexico’s gas tax rate over the next five years has made it to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee.

House Bill 173, sponsored by Rep. Matthew McQueen (D-50) is estimated to generate more than $300 million by the 2024 budget year. The measure creates a new gasoline and special fuel surtax of 10 cents per gallon starting in 2021, and increasing by 5 cents per gallon until 2026. The surtaxes are in addition to the existing gasoline and special fuel taxes.

By Etta Pettijohn

Legislation that would remove language requiring absentee ballots to contain three forms of voter identification—name, address and year of birth—currently sits in the House State Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee, and if adopted could cause major problems for the state’s election integrity.

Currently state law mandates these three ID qualifications be written on an absentee ballot. Should HB 229 pass, these requirements would no longer be law statewide.

February 4, 2020

By House Republican Leader Rep. Jim Townsend (R-Artesia)

Just as most New Mexicans begin to recover from a busy holiday season, the State Legislature embarks in early January on the process of crafting the next year’s state budget. And just as we can expect to endure many cold and sunny days ahead, we sadly can also expect within the walls of the Roundhouse a secretive process in which a select group of legislators puts the final touches on the budget.

By: Paul Gessing, Rio Grande Foundation, and Len Gilroy, Reason Foundation

 Over the last few weeks leading up to the 2020 legislative session, an all too rare alignment has occurred in New Mexico—the Governor, legislators from both parties, labor and taxpayer representatives, plan managers and other stakeholders in Santa Fe all agree that it is time to reform the state’s largest public pension system.

New Mexico’s Public Employees Retirement Association (PERA) has amassed over $6 billion in unfunded pension liabilities and has become vulnerable to volatile investment markets. The Governor’s PERA Solvency Task Force recognized the growing unfunded liability problem and acknowledged the need to fully pay for state promises by making PERA a fully funded system within 25 years a top priority. The resulting task force recommendations mainly increase contributions and address a broken cost-of-living-adjustment policy that served more as annual pension bonuses than it did a protection against inflation.

NM Representative Kelly Fajardo (R- Los Lunas)

CYFD Needs an Ombudsman Office

Earlier this month, yet another case of suspected child abuse made headlines when two emaciated children were removed from their home in Cedar Crest. The children were found by Bernalillo County Sherriff Deputies standing at attention and wearing diapers. Thanks to the diligent work of BCSO detectives, these children were discovered before it was too late. But the situation leaves New Mexicans wondering why something wasn’t done earlier.

When I was first elected as a state representative, one of my commitments was to improve child protection for children living in unsafe home environments in New Mexico. I heard from many New Mexicans that our child welfare system was broken and something needed to be done.

People working within the system told me that communication between families and New Mexico’s Children, Youth and Families Department (CYFD) was challenging. They observed that CYFD caseworkers were overworked and undertrained, leading to burnout and high staff turnover. The agency’s policies were not well-documented and unevenly applied, sometimes causing the agency to miss some extreme cases of child abuse and neglect.

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