On April 26, the results of the 2020 United States Census were released. Overall, the national growth rate was 7.4% between 2010 and 2020, the second slowest in U.S. history. 2020 US Census reflects New Mexico had an anemic 2.8% growth in population since 2010. The surrounding states of Texas, Colorado and Arizona out pace New Mexico with 11% to 15% growth rates. The 2021 New Mexico Data Book also confirms just how poor and how bad things are in “The Land of Enchantment” and that New Mexico is becoming a “Grave Yard State”.
This blog article is a deep dive analysis of the statistics and an attempt to discuss a cure for a dying patient. Only time will tell if it is too late.
2020 UNITED STATES CENSUS RESULTS
New Mexico’s growth rate for the years 2010 to 2020 can be described at best as anemic. The census data reflects that New Mexico’s population growth slowed to a disappointing 2.8% over 10 years since 2010. This is the lowest population increase since the state’s 1912 statehood. The census count released puts the state population at 2.1 million in 2020, a net change of just 58,000 additional people since 2010.
The state’s growth was concentrated among adults over 65 which reflects an aging population for the state. According to the census data the under-18 population shrank by 8%. According to the census report:
“Given the status quo, New Mexico is heading toward having more, older New Mexicans using relatively expensive public services including Medicaid and Medicare, and fewer, younger New Mexicans in school and working.”
The New Mexico Legislative Finance Committee analysts reported that the state population is growing more diverse, but that has always been the case since the state was created in 1912. According to the census data, New Mexico has a 10% growth in the Native American population with a slight increase in Hispanic residents and a decline in non-Hispanic white residents.
SURROUNDING STATES OUTPACE NEW MEXICO
According to the 2020 census numbers released, Texas grew by 15.9%, Colorado by 14.8% and Arizona by 11.9%. In the West, only Wyoming had a slower growth rate than New Mexico. The 2020 census count put the Wyoming resident population at just over 2.1 million. That included 58,343 more people than a decade ago but not enough to gain an additional congressional seat. Neighboring Texas and Colorado gained seats as a result of their population increases.
DIFFICULT TO GET ACURRATE COUNT
According to the Center for Urban Research at the City University of New York, New Mexico is one of the most difficult populations to accurately count. According to the census study, roughly 43% of New Mexico’s population, or about 900,000 people, live in “hard-to-count” areas.
New Mexico last spring launched a multimillion-dollar campaign to ensure an accurate count of its heavily Hispanic and Native American population. The effort paid off, but the numbers were still disappointing.
Lujan Grisham signed an executive order that drew on members of her Cabinet and advocacy groups to encourage participation. The Legislature also set aside $3.5 million for counties to establish and staff complete count committees. Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham deemed the census efforts a success. The Governor had this to say:
“The results of this immense effort will ensure that New Mexico receives every federal dollar to which we are entitled.”
According to Governor Lujan Grisham’s office, New Mexico receives upwards of $7.8 billion annually from the federal government based on census counts to underwrite health care, educational programs, transportation, housing and more. Governor Lujan Grisham had warned that even a 1% undercount could translate into more than $700 million in lost federal revenues over a decade.
NEW MEXICO LEGISLATIVE ANALYSIS OF CENSUS
A report by New Mexico legislative analyst’s found that more people were leaving the state than moving in and that a decrease of 19% in the birth rate contributed to the slow growth. Even though New Mexico’s under age 18 population shrank by 8.3%, the analysts found that the Hispanic population increased slightly and the Native American population grew by 10%, signaling long-term growth in diversity.
The New Mexico legislative analyst’s also predicted that over the next decade, New Mexico will likely see overall decline among younger and rural populations.
Links to new source material are here:
NEW MEXICO DATA BOOK
The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) has released the 2021 State of New Mexico Data Book. It is only the second time that it has been compiled. The data book provides a comprehensive, data-driven summary of social, economic and health statistics for New Mexico. It contains specific county-by-county statistics and makes comparisons to national measurements.
The Data Book contains various sections, representing the types of information most frequently requested by a broad range of stakeholders.
The link to the 351 page 2021 New Mexico Data Book document is here:
New Mexico Data Book can be viewed as representing 4 major areas reported upon:
INCOME AND POVERTY BRREAKDOWN
HEALTH CARE AVAILABILITY
SUICIDE RATES AND DRUG OVERDOSE
Editors Note: The New Mexico Data Notebook is 351 pages contain graphs and statistical breakdowns. The following statistics are not all inclusive as is the data book.
The statistical data that can be gleaned from the data book in major areas are as follows:
The United States has a total population of 328, 239,523 as of 2019. The state’s Ethnic breakdown is as follows:
White population: 1,716,516
Native American: 229,393
Asian/Pacific Island, Other: 95,233
Black/African American: 55,107
New Mexico has a total population of 2,096,829 as of 2019 broken down as follows:
377, 429 are age 65 or older
475,980 are minors under the age of 18
121,017 are children under the age of 5
3,741 children were in foster care in the year 2020
New Mexico 5 counties with populations over 100,000 or more as of 2019 are:
Bernalillo County: 679,121
Dona Ana County: 218,195
Santa Fe County: 150,000
Sandoval County: 146,748
San Juan County: 123,958
New Mexico has 7 counties with populations above 48,000 as of 2019 are:
Valencia County: 76,688
McKinley County: 71,367
Lea County: 71, 070
Otero County: 67,490
Chavez County: 64,615
Eddy County: 58, 460
Curry County: 48, 954
The remaining 21 New Mexico County populations range from as small as 645 (Harding County) and Rio Arriba County with 38,921.
(Page 26 of 2021 Data Book lists all counties with populations: https://www.hsd.state.nm.us/2021-data-book/ )
22% of the state’s total population is age 65 or older and is projected to increase to 42% by 2030.
10.9% of the state’s children are being raised by a grandparent.
47.7% of all households with children are single parent households as compared to the 32.5% national average.
10.8% of the population are veterans.
INCOME AND POVERTY BREAKDOWN
A recent WalletHub report listed New Mexico as the worst state in the nation for families based on metrics like education, crime, poverty and family stability.
According to the Data Book, New Mexico has the highest percentage in the country of people receiving benefits from Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, the highest percentage of seniors ages 65 and older living in poverty, and the second-highest rate of overall poverty, suicide and food insecurity among children.
New Mexico has an overall unemployment rate of 8.1%, which the data book has adjusted taking into consideration job loss as the result of COVID.
New Mexico’s per capita income is $49,326 compared to the national capita income of $54,420
The United States as a whole has a 12.3% poverty rate.
New Mexico has a poverty rate of 19.4% which is the second highest in the country with Louisiana listed as number one.
U.S. Poverty Rate Minors (Under 18 Years) is 16.8 and New Mexico Poverty Rate of Minors (Under 18 Years) 28.8
The U.S. Poverty Rate Adults (18+ Years) with Disabilities is 19.29% and the New Mexico Poverty Rate for people 18 years or older with disabilities is 30.6%.
The National Poverty Rate for the Elderly, 65+ Years is 8.8% and the New Mexico Poverty Rate for the Elderly, 65+ Years 13.1%.
31.4% of New Mexico’s children under the age of 5 are living in poverty.
257,945 of New Mexico’s school children are issued with EBT benefits with a total expenditure of $151,856,000 expended each year.
The number of Food Insecure Children in the United States is 12,377,330 (16.9%) and in New Mexico the number of Food Insecure Children 114,180 (23.8%).
HEALTH CARE AVAILABILITY
New Mexico has 5.5 full time primary care physicians per 10,000 people while the national average is 7.9 full time primary care physicians per 10,000 people.
New Mexico has 17.7 general hospital beds for patient care per 10,000 people while the national average is 23.5 beds for patient care per 10,000 people.
New Mexico has 2.2 intensive care beds per 10,000 people while the national average is 2.7 intensive care beds per 10,000 people.
37.2% of New Mexico’s population receives federal Medicaid benefits and Children’s Health Insurance benefits as of July, 2020 as compared to the 23% National Medicaid enrollment.
SUICIDE RATES AND DRUG OVERDOSE
U.S. Suicide Death Rate by State Age‐Adjusted per 100,000 is 14.2 suicide death rate per 100,000 people.
New Mexico has a 25-suicide death rate per 100,000 people, which is the second highest rate in the United States.
New Mexico Behavioral Health Visits for Anxiety, Depression and Trauma, for January to December, 2021 was 54.5 visits per 1,000 Population.
New Mexico “Unintentional Injury Deaths” per 100,000 Population for 2013‐2017 was 66.1
New Mexico Alcohol‐Related Deaths is 62.2 per 100,000 population.
New Mexico has a 25.3 drug overdose death rate per 100,000 deaths with the United States having a 22.64 drug overdose death rate per 100,000 deaths.
New Mexico has 1,901 full time employed mental health care professionals. However, the 4 New Mexico counties of De Baca, Hidalgo, Mora and Union have no full-time health care professionals.
New Mexico Alzheimer’s Disease Deaths per 100,000 by County Age‐Adjusted per 100,000 Population as of 2019 is 17.6.
NEW MEXICO HUMAN SERVICES DEPARTMENT BUDGET
On April 9, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham signed the $7.4 billion dollar budget bill for fiscal year 2021-2022 enacted by the state legislature during the 2021 regular legislative session. The budget includes investments for public education, early childhood well-being, economic development and pandemic relief, and behavioral health and infrastructure. The New Mexico Human Services Department (HSD) and its major agencies including the Children, Youth and Families Department and the Aging and Long Term Services Department serve more than 50% of the state’s population. HSD gets 85% of its funding from the federal government.
For the Fiscal Year (FY) 2022, the New Mexico Human Services Department ( HSD) requested $1.130 billion to leverage an additional $6.737 billion in federal dollars to help nearly half of the state’s residents through the unprecedented COVID-19 public health crisis. Nearly 85% of HSD’s budget is funded by federal matching funds from a variety of programs. For every additional dollar of new general fund, HSD will earn $2.52 in additional federal funds. Over the last several years, HSD has managed its programs with little to no new general fund appropriations.
COMMENTARY AND ANALYSIS
By and large, all the statistics presented are difficult to accept for a state whose motto is “Land of Enchantment”. New Mexico’s population growth is the pulse of the state and it appears the state is flatlining and will continue to do so over the next 20 years. The question that is always asked is why do the surrounding states of Arizona, Colorado and Texas always booming and growing while the state of New Mexico is stagnate. New Mexico is physically beautiful, but full of poverty, crime and plagued by a poor education system.
The simple answer to the question is the state needs to encourage entrepreneurship that fuels economic development, diversification of the economy and wean itself off the Federal Government addiction. In New Mexico, that has always been easier said than done.
NEW MEXICO VERSUS ARIZONA
On January 6, 1912, New Mexico became the 47th state and on February 14, 1912 Arizona became the 48th state in the Union. Because both states were created within days of each other, comparison between Arizona and New Mexico are always made.
In 2019, the population of New Mexico was estimated to be 2.097 million.
In 2019 the population of Arizona was estimated to be 7.279 million.
Both states have totally opposite race make up:
New Mexico’s population is 48% Hispanic, 38.4% White, 11% Native American, 2.6% African American, making New Mexico a Minority-Majority state.
Arizona’s population is 54.1% white, 31.7% Hispanic, 7.1% Black or African American and 2.1% native American.
New Mexico is currently ranked 34th in the United States for its economic outlook. New Mexico ranked in the top ten poorest states in the country in 2018. The typical New Mexico household earns $47,169 a year which is $36,073 less than the typical household in Maryland, the richest state in the country.
Arizona is currently ranked 10th in the United States for its economic outlook. The median Household Income in Arizona is $58,945 and the Average Household Income in Arizona is $80,779.
New Mexico and Arizona have had two different approaches as to growth, development and economic development and diversification of economies.
Duquesne University Professor Matt E. Ryan did a comparison study between the states of Arizona and New Mexico using 1963 as a baseline. At that time, Arizona’s economy was 1.45 times larger than New Mexico’s. By 2008 it was 3.11 times the size of New Mexico. Arizona’s economy grew at a 5.3% annual rate from 1963 to 2008. New Mexico grew at 3.5% a year.
According to Professor Ryan:
“Neither economy had a natural advantage to grow over the other.”
In 1963, Arizona was the nation’s 33rd largest economy at $24.7 billion (in 2008) dollars while New Mexico’s was 36th at $17 billion. By 2008, Arizona had moved up to 20th with a Gross State Product (GSP) of $216.5 billion while New Mexico had slipped to 37th at $66 billion.
The gap continues with Arizona’s GSP more than three times the size of New Mexico’s. When Ryan was asked why he thought New Mexico and Arizona had diverged so wildly, Ryan basically concluded Arizona relied on private markets to generate wealth and New Mexico relied on government spending.
“Entrepreneurship … is simply the creativity to make yourself better off,” he told t That translates into new products, new businesses, doing things better “and what we call productive entrepreneurship since the economy as a whole grows with this activity.”
AN AGING STATE
New Mexico is aging and there is no getting around the fact that it’s getting worse. New Mexico’s population of children under 18 shrank by 8.3% from the 2010 census. A recent Legislative Finance Committee report went so far to warn of the consequences of overbuilding pre-school capacity and since 2016 public school enrollment has declined 3% a year and higher education has declined 5%. The number of high school graduates is projected to decline by 22% by 2037. The state’s working-age population has declined by 2% since 2010. Overshadowing the decline of the number of young people in the state is the fact that our over-65 population grew by a remarkable 38%.
NEW MEXICO HAS A PATH FOREWORD
Because New Mexico gets nearly 40% of its revenue from the oil and gas industry, New Mexico state economic leaders must work on developing a path forward with a renewed focus on diversifying the New Mexico’s economy.
New Mexico Speaker of the House Brian Egolf acknowledges the budgetary struggles brought by the pandemic and crash in oil and gas revenues and had this to say:
“We have got to diversify our economy and that’s done by one nurturing and helping to grow the home grown businesses and bring companies in from out of state to create good jobs. … We don’t want to take one industry like oil and gas that accounts for 40% of our state revenue, and then replace it with something else that’s 40%.”
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham says as the state faces the economic uncertainty of today, her administration is working for the future to invest millions of state dollars in several key industries.
“New Mexico is very well positioned to come out of this pandemic, and the economic harshness of this pandemic in a very productive way.”
Gov. Lujan Grisham has identified 9 sectors for the state to invest. Those 9 industries are:
Film & Television
Value Added Agriculture
There is also a pathway to a whole brand-new industry in New Mexico in the form of recreational marijuana. It’s unclear how long it will take for recreational marijuana to transform the state’s economy.
The state was recently awarded $1.5 million in federal funds to prepare a 20-year strategy for the state of New Mexico.
AREAS TARGETED FOR ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT
During the last two years, some significant progress has been made in diversifying New Mexico’s economy in 5 of the 9 areas targeted by the state for economic development. The progress in those areas is worth noting:
FILM & TELEVISION
Over the last 20 years, the film and television industry has steadily grown and been one of the few bright spots for the state, especially during the great recession, when it comes to economic development and diversifying the state’s economy which is very dependent on federal spending.
The New Mexico Film Office reports that in in 2003 the industry had direct spending in New Mexico was $7 million. In fiscal year 2019, direct spending reached a record high of $525.5 million. According to state estimates, Netflix will generate an estimated $344 million in taxes to the state, local school districts, and other local governments.
It was in 2019 that the film industry began to seriously emerge to be one of the biggest hopes for Albuquerque and New Mexico to diversify both the city and states economies. The unmistakable evidence was the immense investment in the city and state by NBC Universal and the Netflix purchase of Albuquerque studios as the site of a new production hub. Both announced NBC and Netflix announced opening film production facilities in Albuquerque.
NETFLEX DEAL AND EXPANSION
On October 8, 2018, it was announced that Netflix was buying Albuquerque Studios. The State contributed $10 million of Local Economic Development Act funds. The City of Albuquerque contributed another $4.5 million of Local Economic Development Funds. Albuquerque beat out other places such as Denver, Salt Lake City, Austin, New York, Georgia and Los Angeles. The Albuquerque site will be Netflix’s first hub purchased in the United States. Albuquerque Studios is an enormous complex that includes 9 sound stages, a backlot and management offices. New Mexico’s other 4 production studios are I-25 Studios, Garson Studios, Santa Fe Studios and Las Cruces Studios as other productions seek studio space for their projects.
Originally it was estimated that at least 1,000 well-paying jobs per year will be created. The jobs will run the gamut of film and TV production work, most of which is project-based contract labor. Many of the jobs are expected to pay $70,000 a year. The purchase deal also calls for $1 billion worth of production spent over 10 years which will have a dramatic effect on the City and State economies.
On November 23, 2020, it was reported that Netflix will be expanding its presence in New Mexico by more than 10 times as it already exists by adding 300 acres to its existing 30-acre property located at Mesa Del Sol at the South border of the City. Netflex said it intends to make Albuquerque its North American production headquarters. The expansion comes a mere two years after the media giant purchased the ABQ Studios.
New Mexico Economic Development Secretary, Alicia Keyes, said the Netflix deal is going to build an ecosystem and solidify New Mexico as the place to be for film and television. The Netflix expansion will break ground in 2021.
Keyes laid out the New Mexico Film Office’s top priorities for the expansion and said:
“Our priorities for the next few years are really to train our crew base, and make sure that they can upskill so that they’re moving up the ladder within the industry. … We would like to enroll more small businesses in New Mexico within the vendor program for the state film office where lumber companies, restaurants, glass companies can register themselves in order to service the industry. Also, we need to focus on above the line talent and really how to build an ecosystem so that we’re not only a crew destination, but we’re creating our own content.”
“One part of the deal that we’re really excited about is that Netflix is going to put a trainee center here and also a post-production facility. … “They also will have programs for underrepresented filmmakers—so below the line for the Black, Latino and also Native communities. … I think it’s an exciting time for students here in New Mexico, to be able to train and live and work and stay in their state with their families and also be involved in such an amazing thriving industry in which they can be paid well and get benefits. .. I really think that New Mexico is the place to be for film and television now.”
THE NBC DEAL
On July 22, 2019, NBC Universal announce it would open a studio in Albuquerque as part of a 10-year venture. The media giant took over and renovated and created sound stages at a now vacant industrial building south of I-40 on Commercial Street, north of downtown in the vicinity of historic Martinez town. The media giant is expected to provide more than 330 full-time jobs year-round at the film studio.
NBC Universal employees earn about $58,000 a year which is a far cry from the minimum wage jobs the city is use to announcing with the arrival of new businesses. The studio operation is projected to generate an economic impact of $1.1 billion over a 10-year period.
The state’s Economic Development Department is providing $7.7 million through the Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) to the redevelopment and production commitment. The City of Albuquerque will provide another $3 million from its LEDA fund which was approved by the Albuquerque City Council on June 17, 2019 by a unanimous vote.
State officials are encouraged between the Spaceport and companies like Virgin Galactic moving forward with test flights. State officials say there’s even more companies on the way.
On Thursday, November 12, 2020, the City of Albuquerque Environmental Planning Commission approved the new site plan for the “Orion Center.” It is an aerospace and technology facility that will be built on the 122-acre plot of land located between Kirtland Air Force Base and Albuquerque International Sunport. “Group Orion”, the developer, is a subsidiary of Theia Group Inc., a Washington D.C. based, privately held aerospace company. The Theia Group is attempting to develop a network of satellites to digitally image and collect data on the physical world, providing solutions in areas from logistics to biology.
The mass area acreage was originally where the North-South airport runway was located. The land has now been designated for industrial development by the city. In 2017 after the runway was removed, the City named the acreage as the “Aviation Center for Excellence”. The city began to offer the vacant land area for commercial and office developers . According to Nyika Allen, Albuquerque’s Director of Aviation, the city began working with “Group Orion” in late 2018.
During the November 12th press conference announcing the development, Albuquerque Economic Development Director Synthia Jaramillo said the Orion Project represents a real opportunity to attract development from the commercial space industry. According to Jaramillo:
“The global space economy is projected to be worth $3 trillion by 2045.”
Jaramillo cited Albuquerque’s “engineering-savvy” workforce, low property tax rates, which are some of the lowest in the country, and tax deductions that target the aviation and aerospace industries. In addition, the city boasts “large swaths of vacant land, unrestricted air space and low population density.”
James Reid Gorman, Vice President of Administration for Theia, said Albuquerque was appealing to the company because of its “pipeline of engineering talent” from the University of New Mexico Engineering College. One goal is for the company to partner with all New Mexico universities to attract graduates and he said “It’s going to be a big part of our strategy in recruiting.”
Links to news coverage sources are here:
There is a major effort to bring high paying technology-based jobs to communities all across the state. New Mexico is making real progress in the area. A recent analysis by the Milken Institute found New Mexico alongside New Jersey saw the largest gains in science and technology workforce over the past 2 years.
On May 3, 2021, Intel Corporation announced it will be investing $3.5 billion to equip its New Mexico operations for the manufacturing of advanced semiconductor packaging technologies, including Foveros, Intel’s breakthrough 3D packaging technology. The multiyear investment is expected to create at least 700 high-tech jobs and 1,000 construction jobs and support an additional 3,500 jobs in the state. Planning activities began immediately, with construction expected to start in late 2021.
In the biosciences sector, more than a hundred new high-paying jobs are expected in Rio Rancho. The company Nature’s Toolbox specializes in bio-manufacturing to speed up the development of vaccines and pharmaceuticals. The average salary is $74,000.
State officials are tapping into the international border with Mexico as a major economic opportunity. In recent months, the state announced major partnerships with at least three Taiwanese companies to set up shop in Santa Teresa, New Mexico. That includes Xxentria, which is a leading manufacturer of metal composites. Secretary Keyes had this to say:
“A lot of their heavy industry and manufacturing is going to be in Chihuahua and then we do the assembly in New Mexico, and also the headquarters. … And we’ve just hired a consultant for New Mexico that will be based in Taipei to help us with courting those Taiwanese companies and those Asian companies that potentially want to be on the border here.”
Economic development and diversifying the State’s economy must include discussion of tax reform and eliminating the “pyramiding” of gross receipts tax in the state’s construction and manufacturing industry and other industries and attempt to limit it to only purchases of consumer goods. Tax pyramiding on small businesses has a bigger impact on “contracted professional services” than anyone wants to admit. Gross receipt tax should be limited to the sales of consumer goods and products and not professional services such as accounting, legal and payroll services where gross receipts tax must be paid for those professional services.
Don Debelak is a business startup and marketing expert who retired in Albuquerque 5 years ago. He was Entrepreneur Magazine’s “Bright Idea” columnist for seven years and has authored 15 books on invention and marketing. In an op-ed published in the Albuquerque Journal on January 4, said that tax pyramiding is an “anchor” weighing down New Mexico’s economic development in New Mexico.
According to Debelak:
“Tax pyramiding has two harmful effects: one is that it places a huge cost burden on component manufactures, and second it kills the development of a core community business sector.
In New Mexico, companies pay gross receipt tax on most items they purchase if used by the company or used to produce a product that is later sold to others, meaning that any component supplier is at a cost disadvantage to a competitor from another state where sales tax is not due on raw material or component purchases. With a long supply chain, tax pyramiding simply raises costs to a noncompetitive level.”
According to Debelak when a product is ready to move to market, that tends to happen elsewhere because gross receipts taxes are levied at every level in New Mexico.
The link to the Albuquerque Guest column is here:
Republican State Representative, Jason Harper, is considered one of the Legislature’s tax gurus. He said recently that New Mexico made good progress when it comes to “tax pyramiding” in construction and manufacturing, but not enough has been done. According to Harper:
“We are not serious about improving our economy until we tackle GRT tax pyramiding. … It can raise the effective tax rate to 17% and we wonder why that product is so much cheaper in Texas. It’s because of the hidden taxation. … We’ve talked it to death. Legislators on both sides of the aisle know it’s a problem. Until we address it, I don’t think we can move in the right direction.”
Harper puts the cost of fixing the problem at about $100 million in a state budget of $7 billion-plus.
Link to news source material and quotes:
REAL LEADERSHIP NEEDED TO DIVERSIFY NEW MEXICO’S ECONOMY
Election after election, we hear New Mexico politicians running for office at all levels and elected officials from both parties repeatedly point out that we routinely rank high on the bad lists of crime, hunger, poverty, and low on the good lists of income, child well-being, places to retire, quality of education and jobs.
Former Democrat New Mexico State Treasurer James Lewis once famously said when he ran for Mayor of Albuquerque:
“I’m sick and tired of being sick and tired of being sick and tired of the State being at the bottom of all the good lists and on the top of all the bad lists!”
NEW MEXICO REPUBLICAN HARP MACHINE
Republicans especially like to harp over and over and over again that all of our problems and being last on all the good lists and first on the bad list are directly related to dominance of the Democratic Party. Republican elected officials such as former Mayor Harry Kinney, former Mayor Richard Berry, former Republican Governors Gary Carruthers, Gary Johnson and Susana Martinez were never known for their stellar performances in office when it comes to diversifying New Mexico’s economy.
If anything, the Republican Governors have been downright pathetic and failures finding solutions to our problems such as poverty and economic development to diversify our economy. Former Republican Governor Dave Cargo can at least be given some credit for creating the State’s first Film Industry Department, but he never was taken too seriously and disliked by his own party as he was called “Lonesome Dave”. Governor Cargo was never elected to any other office though he tried over and over again, God bless his soul.
Former Republican US Representatives Steve Schiff, Heather Wilson and Steve Pierce were never considered economic development “fire brands”. All three combined never had an original thought in their little conservative minds to diversify New Mexico’s economy. Wilson and Pierce in particular always bought into the hard-core Republican mantra of lower taxes, scaled down government spending, lower corporate taxes and supporting Der Führer Trump. Heather Wilson after losing a US Senate seat she had coveted for so many years could not get out of the state fast enough and went to another state to be a university President. Wilson then move on again to go to work for Der Führer Trump as Secretary of the Air Force.
Former Republican Congressman Manual Lujan and Former Republican United State Senator Pete Domenici, both the patron saints of New Mexico Republican Party, did very little to help diversify New Mexico’s economy but were instrumental in making sure the state was addicted to Federal Government spending. Domenici’s name is now emblazoned on as many federal government buildings he could find as a reminder of how effective he was in bringing federal dollars to the state.
During the pandemic, the always opportunistic New Mexico Republican harpers did everything they could to interfere with the Governor’s Health Care Orders, including going to court which failed, proclaiming she was single handily destroying New Mexico’s economy. Republicans have always preferred the dollar over health care. Now that the State is pulling out of the pandemic, with restrictions being lifted, the New Mexico Republican Party flees New Mexico to have a 3 day convention in Texas so they can have national speakers. Pearce said his Republican party could not attract national speakers reluctant to come to the New Mexico because of the state’s restrictions. Republican Party chair Steve Pearce had this to say:
“We can be angry about it, but it was a very pragmatic decision [because of New Mexico’s covid restrictions.] We would have loved to have this in New Mexico because it’s a big economic shot.”
Steve Pierce is like many Texans, you can always tell a Texan, you can’t tell them much, but you can always tell them. The New Mexico Republican Party should just stay in Texas.
DEMOCRATIC GOVENORS HAVE GIVEN MORE THAN LIP SERVICE
Democratic Governor’s Bruce King, Bill Richardson and now Michelle Lujan Grisham gave and have given economic development more than lip service to diversify New Mexico’ economy.
Bruce King, a 3 term Governor and highly successful rancher with his brothers, knew the importance of tying economic development to tourism and culture. King also knew the dangers of allowing Indian gaming and its negative impact on local economies in one of the poorest states in the union. Republican Gary Johnson, who really was a millionaire libertarian, took advantage of King’s position on Indian gaming and walked away with financial support from the tribes that historically supported Democrat King. King always concentrated on infra structure, especially roads. King said he was proudest of his economic development accomplishments, particularly with attracting the Intel Corp. computer chip plant in Rio Rancho, which recently announced it’s about to make a $3.5 Billion investment in its Rio Rancho plant.
Governor Bill Richardson for his part concentrated on targeting incentives to attract clean and renewable energy companies, offered tax credits and corporate tax deductions to attract higher paying companies, created the film and TV industry in New Mexico and developed and built the Spaceport. The biggest economic development mistake Richardson made was the Rail Runner. During Richardson’s terms, New Mexico became the 20th state in the country for job growth, 7th in the nation in personal income growth with the 6th lowest unemployment rate in the Country.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham during her first 2 years in office is making economic development and diversification a priority. Governor Lujan Grisham, while dealing with a pandemic, has still been able to concentrate on economic development. On January 8, the Albuquerque Journal published a guest column written by New Mexico Cabinet Secretary for Economic Development Alicia J. Keyes on economic development. She wrote about the need to focus on rebuilding industry and jobs in the wake of the COVID pandemic and wrote in part:
“Through the state Local Economic Development Act and the LEDA job-creators fund, the Lujan Grisham Economic Development Department has worked with 18 businesses who made a commitment to create 2,500 jobs in New Mexico. These include Netflix in Albuquerque, Ascent Aviation in Roswell, High Plains Processing in Las Vegas, N.M., Nature’s Toolbox (NTx) in Rio Rancho, Big Tuna in Las Cruces, Savant X in Santa Fe, and SpinLaunch at Spaceport America.
Because of LEDA, companies will invest over $761 million in private money into New Mexico over the next 10 years, and over $150 million in new payroll. In addition, the Job Training Incentive Program is helping 75 businesses around New Mexico hire new employees or retrain existing workers in 2,380 jobs.
The state is partnering with businesses that will bring jobs in industries that are exciting and growing: biosciences, advanced manufacturing, aerospace, film and television, cybersecurity. The average annual salary for LEDA-created jobs last year was $61,000.”
“New Mexico First” was founded in 1986 and it boasts of having over 100 participants a year. According to its web page, New Mexico first “builds consensus on critical issues facing our state and communities and leads positive policy change through deliberative town halls, forums, and nonpartisan work on education, economic and community development, health, natural resources and good governance.”
The Governor, the New Mexico Legislative leadership, the county and the city municipal leagues should ask for help and fund “New Mexico First” to convene an “Economic Summit To Diversify the New Mexico Economy”. The summit would include leaders in the private sector, including entrepreneurs, investors and business owners along with public policy experts. The summit’s task would be to make reasonable and necessary recommendations for making New Mexico more competitive. New Mexico First already does this to some extent, but the difference would be the recommendations would include specific legislation for passage and funding of programs perhaps in a special session of the New Mexico legislature.
For New Mexico to survive, it needs to diversify its economy for job creation, a better education system, lower crime rates and to be a “tax and entrepreneur friendly” state. Otherwise, within 20 years, if not sooner, virtually all of New Mexico will be nothing more than a dusty high desert state with more empty space, more ghost towns, beautiful vistas and sunshine and with no one wanting to live here but only visit. The only industries that will be expanding will be “assisted living” homes and funeral homes and cemeteries with New Mexico becoming the grave yard of lost opportunities.
It does not have to be this way.