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Thursday, November 17, 2005

Big Bill: "Second Tier" But Trying Harder, Plus: His 'Tax-Cutter' Title; Deserved Or Not? And: Readers Blog The Surplus 

Big Bill makes the cut, but he has a way to go before he impresses the impresarios along the Potomac and makes the top tier of Dem Prez hopefuls. That from the in-the-know and well-respected National Journal(subscription) which is out with a take on our Guv that insiders will thrive on. Here are excerpts from the piece by Chuck Todd.

"Apart from his gargantuan ego, we came away more impressed with his credentials as a major presidential candidate even while having doubts about whether 2008 will be his year...If a Democratic consultant were trying to create the ideal presidential candidate, Richardson would be the model: He's a sitting Western governor from a red state who has vast experience in foreign affairs.

The only thing the lab would add that Richardson's missing is a stable full of kids, military experience and, shall we say, a svelte physique...But for some reason, in the national Democratic salons... Richardson's not viewed as top tier in the 2008 anti-Hillary sweepstakes.

We attribute Richardson's struggles..to a whisper campaign that contends he's a bit reckless and "unpresidential" (whatever that means). This is a reputation that's likely been earned by the fact that he's got a blunt way of speaking to folks in private...There's a "soft" side missing to Richardson's personality that also has us wondering if he's just not going to be able to appeal to women as well as other Democrats.

Richardson bullied his way to the top of New Mexico politics...which leads us to believe he is a sure-bet to run in 2008--no matter how unstoppable Clinton appears... Candidate Richardson has some flaws, but barring some skeleton he's failed to reveal, they are flaws he can overcome. Dismiss his chances in 2008 at your own peril."

Thanks Chuck. Should we we start the "Skeleton Watch?"

BILL AND THE TAX-CUTTERS


Nothing enrages Big Bill's conservative detractors more than to hear him called a tax cutter, even on the right-wing Fox News. NM Capitol reporter Walt Rubel joins the debate with a long and strong piece on the fight between Big Bill and conservatives over how he will be viewed on this critical issue here and nationally.

TEACHERS RULE

Big Bill is out with his first idea for the huge state surplus (now $1 billion!) generated by oil and gas royalties. He wants to raise teachers' salaries six per cent at a cost of $109 million. But that's an expense that would reoccur each year, while the surplus is not guaranteed to be there every year. So what are his plans, if any, to fund that pay hike long-term?

READERS BLOG THE SURPLUS

We've been asking our readers what they think should be done with the big pot of money. Here's a round-up.

An ABQ reader gets right to the point: “Use the money for capital improvements at public schools (pre K-12) that should have continued to be funded out of lottery proceeds."

Anna Otero Hatanaka of the ABQ social services community has some definite ideas: "It is imperative that the Medicaid program be adequately funded to avoid additional cuts in services and reimbursement rates. Also, cuts in services and rates totaling $40 Million in state general funds, implemented last fiscal year, should be restored. The health of our citizens and our service providers must be a priority. “

Ruth Hoffman of the Lutheran Office of Governmental Ministry in Santa Fe agreed and added: “Restore eligibility for child care assistance to 200% of the federal poverty level. Child care assistance was cut in 2001 from 200% to 100% of the poverty level and has been raised back to 150% so far. What about increasing funding for food banks and the homeless? Programs trying to meet the needs of the most vulnerable among us need to be more adequately funded."

Bill Jordan, Deputy Director of New Mexico Voices for Children, agreed and called for repealing an eligibility rule that has seen 20,000 children dropped from Medicaid.

CARLSBAD BLOGS US OUT


And from Carlsbad Mark Schinnerer tells the blog: “Use it to attract the oil companies to NM to build new oil refineries (jobs, income taxes, consumer spending all come from working folks) and to heavily invest in alternative fuel development (again, new jobs).

"If you want to spend it on education then invest in expanding nursing programs. The biggest worker shortage today, and for the foreseeable future, is in nursing. The problem is that nursing instructors are few and far between because we don't pay them."

We’ve got some pretty bright readers, and I like the emphasis on the young. Why should they inherit a state that ranks 48th and 49th in key rankings? New Mexico now has chance to do something big, really big. Will we?

Thanks for the company today. Stop by again soon.

(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2005
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