Monday, October 31, 2011
Back On The Econ Beat; It's Still All About Jobs (And Taxes), Plus: Ben Ray Draws GOP Foe And Judicial Buffoonery
Besides the old arguments that cutting regulations and lowering taxes will attract jobs, there has been precious few original ideas boiling up in Santa Fe on how to address the state's ongoing employment crisis. But that doesn't mean Governor Martinez and politicos of every stripe won't seize the opportunity to take credit--deserved or not--for any glimmer of hope we do get on the jobs front. First, this development:
The rate of over-the-year job growth, comparing September 2011 with September 2010, was 0.2 percent, representing an increase of 1,700 jobs. This gain marked the fourth straight month of over-the-year job growth, following a 32-month period of losses.
And here's Susana on the heels of that news on her Facebook page:
For the fourth straight month, New Mexico has gained jobs and our unemployment rate is now 2 percentage points lower than it was a year ago. This period of job growth follows a 32 consecutive months of job losses. This is encouraging, but we have a lot of work to do to make New Mexico more business-friendly and get our economy really moving. I am going to work hard to reform our tax structure to lower taxes and make it easier for small businesses to create more jobs...
But placed in context, the state's 6.6 percent unemployment rate is startling. That's because the lower rate does not mean more jobs have been created. It represents thousands of people who have dropped out of the labor force because they have gone elsewhere or their unemployment benefits have been drained. Here's that side of the coin:
New Mexico has lost 2,500 retail jobs since the beginning of the recession. The state had 95,800 people working in the retail sector in Sept. 2007 and had 93,300 as of last month, a percentage decrease of 2.61.
New Mexico has lost 16,100 professional and business service jobs from Sept. 2007 to Sept. 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics . The drop ranks New Mexico No. 41 out of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.
And the skeptics--monitoring the worst state recession in the post-WWII era--are still out in force. One of our business Alligators came with this reaction to the Guv's Facebook posting:
Funny, I was at the Economic Forum meeting last week and an economist from the Federal Reserve gave a comprehensive economic briefing. He specifically addressed this issue of state unemployment rates and said they are notorious for being revised. One person asked about NM's number and he said that there was no way that we dropped that much and to expect it to be revised upward at some point. When that happens, I don't think they will be releasing a press release on that...
To her credit, Martinez came with a large capital outlay proposal that was reduced by the Legislature and she is also pursuing reform to make the spending of all that capital outlay more efficient. However, her pledge to "lower taxes" to spark employment seems like fantasy. She has been laying off state workers recently and faces a continuing gargantuan financial challenge in funding the Medicaid program. With that as a backdrop, cutting taxes is not in the cards.
New Mexico's' continued revenue shortfalls have not been solely caused by the Great Bear Market. Governor Richardson, pursuing a reputation as a pro-business Democrat when he sought the 2008 presidential nomination, cut taxes too much. The top rate was slashed from 8.2 percent to 4.9 percent. This resulted in hundreds of millions in lost revenue to the state treasury. The tax cuts were supposed to attract to the state highly paid executives and their companies. It didn't happen--no matter how the far-right--bankrolled by the big biz machine--try to spin it.
But pining away over what could have been will not address what needs to be. In that regard, how about if the Guv and the Legislature work on paring back the business-inhibiting gross receipts tax and replace that revenue with higher personal income taxes for the top brackets? That would immediately make small businesses more competitive. Of, if not that, how about stripping away some of the lucrative tax credits given to businesses that don't need them? When does Santa Fe start deeming corporate welfare as wasteful as the bureaucracy?
The chances of forward-looking tax reform? Not good. Despite the epic imbalance in wealth accumulation between the wealthy and the middle classes, the political classes have been fully indoctrinated. Powerful Democrats echo Governor Martinez that no taxes of any kind should ever be raised--even the relatively innocuous tax exchange we just mentioned--income taxes replacing gross receipts. And stripping away tax breaks enjoyed by your most munificent campaign contributors? Well, you know.....
It appears we are going to get a Republican candidate to run against Rep. Ben Ray Lujan in the heavily Democratic northern congressional district. A reader checks in with this news:
Frederich "Rick" Newton, an Albuquerque businessman, will announce this week that he will run as a Republican for US Congress from District 3. The announcement will be held at GOP Headquarters. Newton signed a lease on property in Taos at the beginning of October to establish his residency. His campaign manager is Ken Scarborough, who is also the GOP Chairman for the Taos County GOP.
Lujan was held below 60 percent in the heavily GOP year of 2010. His chances to improve on that margin should improve in a presidential election year which will see increased turnout. But there is still that anti-incumbent mood to contend with.
The shape of the northern district is still in question as redistricting proposals are in court. One of the plans would put conservative east side areas like Clovis and Portales in the southern congressional district. That would benefit Lujan. No matter, the district will stay in the Dem column.
That indicted Las Cruces District Judge Michael Murphy appears to be a homophobic buffoon is not in dispute. Recently released recordings demonstrate that, but where's the crime? That's the problem Special Prosecutor Matt Chandler has on his hands as well as the State GOP and its media allies (a traditional tool of the prosecutor) which are trying to force a show trial and a guilty verdict. It's like trying to force a round peg into a square hole. Murphy the buffoon does not equal Murphy the briber. Or as they said back in the '84 presidential campaign, "Where's the beef?"
Meantime, Matt has to defend himself against charges of "judge shopping" in the Murphy case that were brought by one of his former legal associates.
Word comes to us from reader Stuart Heady that Barbara Wold, the founder and editor of the popular liberal blog "Democracy for New Mexico," is stricken with ill health and that a fund-raiser has been arranged to assist with medical expenses:
Barbara Wold is dying of cancer. More than another media outlet, blogs are a revival of community in the most classic American sense. Regardless of what your politics are, Barbara Wold deserves a lot of credit as a pioneer of new media in New Mexico and a huge amount of regard from the community. She also needs help. She and her partner, Mary Ellen Broderick, are struggling with the expense and trauma of cancer. Now is the time to lay aside whatever differences might exist and offer some kind of support and to say thank you. Barb has metastatic liver cancer and her partner, an architect, has been out of work for some months.
An appreciation and fundraiser in Barb's honor is being held: Wed. Nov. 2 AFSCME Headquarters, 1202 Pennsylvania NE (off of Lomas). For more information, call Sisy Garcia at 505-730-9923. She is coordinating the event.
Thanks for that update, Stuart. Barbra and Mary Ellen have been intrepid in their pursuit of a better New Mexico. We wish them well and will forward a check on behalf of our readers and advertisers. Donations can be made directly via the "donate" link at the top left of the DFNM web site.
WHAT'S THE DEAL?
What's the deal with the Dem dominated Bernalillo and Sandoval county commissions refusing to send a Republican name up to the Governor to replace ABQ GOP State Senator Kent Cravens? Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson has his history right on this one:
Johnson said...the commission has traditionally respected the party affiliation of a departing lawmaker when naming a replacement.“For some reason, this seems like its become more hyper partisan.." Johnson said.
Well, what hasn't become more partisan? But the Cravens district is big time Republican and an R is going to win the seat next November. The commissions should send the Guv a Republican name. There are plenty of other opportunities to engage in partisanship, don't ya' think?
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