Oppose HJR 1. It is clearly a push for Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) that will use local taxpayer's money to benefit private individuals, companies and corporations. The legislature can come up with these kinds of bills because the majority of voters have no idea what you're talking about. They make it sound wonderful that the funds will "protect the public's health, safety and welfare" and to "enhance the quality of life for residents of the county or municipality". In reality, PPPs between governments and private individuals and companies are armed with government's power to tax, the government’s power to enforce policy and government's power to force eminent domain. PPPs are the brain-child of the United Nations Agenda 21 and Sustainable Development program. Even elected officials rarely know the true agenda being put in place by PPPs. That's not the case here. It's apparent that the authors of HJR 1 know exactly what they're doing. If HJR 1 passes, graft and corruption at the local level will be facilitated.
Oppose HJR 3 to permanently take increased withdrawals from the land grant permanent fund. First of all, I oppose this session’s wild flurry of constitutional amendments to enact legislation that should be the responsibility of the legislature and governor and are not structural problems with the NM constitution. The constitution provides overall guidance and it should be very difficult to amend and only rarely happen. HJR 3 does have one good feature and that is the part to increase the minimum balance in the land grant fund to $10 billion. At least that is some insurance against corpus depletion of the fund. I do oppose making the permanent withdrawal 5.5% instead of the original 5% judged to keep the fund corpus intact and growing. Funds going to education will grow naturally at a 5% withdrawal rate as the balance grows over time. We do not need to keep taking more for whatever whim someone comes up with. Supposedly the extra .5% was because of some great emergency. A sunset date was included which should now be honored. Keep the new minimum balance but let the extra .5% expire as scheduled.
Support SJR 4 to remove the artificial cap of 15% invested in foreign securities. The 15% limitation was an artificial cap when global financial markets were less mature. Since the State Investment Council (SIC) has been reorganized and has a number of restrictions on investment policy, they should make the decision on investment levels to maximize returns to the permanent fund. It looks like returns can be increased by several points by removing the cap.
Oppose SJR 12 to permanently take increased withdrawals from the land grant permanent fund. Again I oppose this session’s wild flurry of constitutional amendments that are not structural problems with the NM constitution. The constitution provides overall guidance and it should be very difficult to amend and only rarely happen. I oppose making the extra education emergency .5%, based on some great emergency, a permanent withdrawal. A sunset date was included which should now be honored. I am opposed to taking another 1.5% from the permanent fund for early childhood education programs which have never been demonstrated to improve scholastic performance. Total withdrawals would become 7% which is too much to guarantee maintaining the corpus of the fund. The original 5% was judged to keep the fund corpus intact and growing. Funds going to education will grow naturally at a 5% withdrawal rate as the balance grows over time. We do not need to keep taking more for each political whim.
Oppose SJR 13 to annually increase the state minimum wage based on CPI indexes and to make increases retroactive back to 2009. Again I oppose this session’s wild flurry of constitutional amendments that are not structural problems with the NM constitution.
The proposal is to amend Article XX which has nothing to do with wages and does not mention anything about minimum wage. Minimum wage determinations should be the business of the legislature and governor and not a constitutional issue. The legislature sets the minimum wage which is not specified in the constitution.
With the retroactive payment and any future increases businesses will be forced out of business and/or reduce hiring. If the CPI declines, the minimum wage will not decline accordingly. If the movement of CPI is a legitimate index for the minimum wage it should track down as well as up.
In other words this bill is just a way to blindly raise the minimum wage level every year no matter what happens to the cost of living.
Minimum wage and automatic increases end up hurting the very employees the bill claims to help. Workers are paid based on their productivity. Badly needed entry jobs for young people and unskilled people will dry up. Businesses will face wage increase pressures for other workers causing more business and job losses. There will be no net increase in spending power since the extra wages have to come from business profits and will result in higher prices overall and wage earners purchasing power will remain relatively the same.
Oppose HB 30. While I like some parts of it I am overall opposed to it without amendment. The good thing about the bill is using energy equivalents to define alternative fuel quantities. However, the redefinition makes the discrepancy between alternative fuels and gas and diesel tax rates even greater than it is now. The end result will be serious reduction in highway tax collections if the projected shift to more alternative fueled vehicles occurs. Tax rates should be equivalent along with the energy equivalents.
Oppose HB 36 Tech Research and Administration. It requires 1% of the severance tax permanent fund be invested in NM technology companies but is not clear whether this is included in or additional to the present 9% of the fund now invested in NM companies. It establishes a new level of bureaucracy with a "Technology Research Collaboration" (TRC).
The TRC has the approval authority for technology investments. The state investment officer already has authority to invest in NM technology companies and the TRC will another level to the decision process and cost an estimated $2 million per year to sustain. The present investment strategy should remain in place. The state investment officer should put our money into the best investments to maintain the permanent fund and not be restricted to the artificial 1% for certain business sectors. All sectors should compete equally for our investment dollars
Oppose HB 83 to set up a new hospital bureaucracy to decide on and administer required levels of nursing staffing at hospitals. Nurse staffing levels would be managed by a committee instead of hospital management. It requires an onerous level of posting and reporting. It will exacerbate the already critical shortage of nurses in the state. It may be impossible for small/rural hospitals to comply and it will increase health care costs even more.
Oppose SB 99 Investment in Tech Research Collaborative. It establishes a new level of bureaucracy with a "Technology Research Collaboration" (TRC). The TRC has the approval authority for technology investments. The state investment officer already has authority to invest in NM technology companies and the TRC will add another level to the decision process and cost an estimated $2 million per year to sustain. The present investment strategy should remain in place. The state investment officer should put our money into the best investments to maintain the permanent fund and not be restricted to the artificial 1/4% for certain business sectors. All sectors should compete equally for our investment dollars
Oppose HB 115 to study "wage theft" and establish a wage theft fund and provide for class action suits and penalties. It calls for spending $65,000 on a study of "wage theft" which is not defined anywhere in the bill. It sets up one more dedicated fund that further fragments the state budget and results in poor budget decisions. It requires additional record retention and reporting which is an added regulatory burden on our businesses. It provides for class action suits against employers and fines of up to $100 per day per employee affected. The bill is not good for the state, businesses, or employment and should be stopped here in committee.
Support HB 132 which maintains the local government phase out of the hold harmless GRT distributions allows the local governments to impose replacement excise taxes but deducts them from the hold harmless distributions. The bill covers both counties and municipalities. The bill prevents double dipping by local governments by not allowing collection of the hold harmless funds and an excise tax collection on top of the distribution. It is distasteful enough to us taxpayers that local governments are going to eventually impose the excise taxes without letting them double up on us. Also see HB 155.
Oppose HB 133 to reduce the assessed value of solar installations by the value of the Federal energy investment tax credit. This bill creates a double burden on tax payers. First we have to make up for the Federal tax credit which we cover with our taxes. Then the property tax value of the installation is reduced and has to be made up by all other property tax payers that are paying full value for their property.
The owners are already getting a tremendous tax credit and don't deserve an additional handout from the state at the expense of the low income and middle class families. Counties will be losing substantial potential revenue which will have to be made up by the rest of the property owners in the county. Solar installations add value to property. A better strategy would be to increase the assessed values by the amount of the federal tax credit instead of lowering them. That would give the rest of us tax payers a way to recover some of the credit we give away. It is unfair to us average tax payers.
Oppose HB 155 making some changes in the county portion of the hold harmless distributions. For the most part HB 155 duplicates the county portion of HB 132 which I have supported.
However, HB 155 does not deal with the situation where a county may have already implemented an excise tax. According to HB 155 a county will be eligible for hold harmless distributions only if they have not levied an excise tax. HB 155 also does not deal with municipalities like HB 132.
Support HB 183 to allow the PRC to accept special reduced utility rates to encourage economic development. I am basically not if favor of any preferential utility rates since they are an added burden on the rest of the rate payers. However, if the direct costs are covered, the level of investment and employment are maintained, period of operation is fulfilled, and the claw back provisions are enforced, I can accept this incentive to encourage economic development in the state.
Oppose HB 224 which increases onerous regulations and will add cost to doing business because of credit and debit card data breaches. This is a knee jerk reaction the recent problems experienced by Target and others. It should be up to the companies to take care of their customers without more government regulations. Many of our businesses operate in more than one state and individual state requirements will just add confusion and added expense to doing business. The irony is that if the desire is to protect the customer, the customer gets little protection. A maximum of $100 to cover damages does not even begin to offset the expense of correcting identity theft. It seems most of the protection is for financial institutions.
Oppose HB 233 to double the amount of renewable energy eligible to get state renewable energy tax credits. We are already paying much too much in tax credits for renewable energy. The majority of us are paying for this boondoggle for a selected few wealthy tax payers with our increased taxes and skyrocketing utility rates. Renewable energy is not new. It has been around and been subsidized with tax breaks like these for years and years. If anything, the tax credits should be quickly phased out and not doubled as this bill proposes. If renewable energy is such a good idea, folks would be installing them without the need for tax subsidies.
Our appreciation to Jim Crawford for studying the bills before the New Mexico Congress this session. His recommendations as to support or opposition to the bills are not endorsed by the Albuquerque Tea Party Board. Mr. Crawford is respected by many and his research is provided for informational purposes. His efforts are appreciated.
Special thanks to Sylvia Bokor for collecting Mr. Crawford's emails represented by the positions here. Sylvia Bokor provides an invaluable service to the New Mexico conservative community with her daily newsletter. Should you wish to receive the Bokor newsletter simply send a request to be added to the email list to SylviaBokor@aol.com.