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Thursday, October 27, 2016

Our Thursday Monster Blog: Failed Leadership Sinks State's Bond Rating; Why It Didn't Have To Happen, Plus: More On Hit Ad On Sanchez, Anne Who? In Town Today And Some Want Gary To Go Away  

It's not only a travesty but another sign of the state's failed leadership that New Mexico's bond rating has been downgraded by Moody's because of the complete lack of fiscal planning by this Governor, her radical Republicans in control of the state House and a collection of Democrats who lack the guts to fiercely attack the state's budget plight.

Most of the blame rests squarely on Gov. Martinez, the putative leader of our state. She was offered a compromise at the recent special legislative session by Senate Finance Committee Chair John Arthur Smith, a Democrat. It would have raised taxes a little as well as cut the state budget to avoid dropping off the fiscal cliff as we are today. She and her zombies in the House refused to budge. Thus the blame for this bond downgrade rests mainly with those state House Republicans and they should be held accountable at the polls November 8.

The downgrade itself is not catastrophic but what it signals is indeed serious. Moody's warned it could see giving us another downgrade in the months ahead that would further increase borrowing costs. But the psychological impact is equally as important. A once on the move Sunbelt recoils even further.

Everyone associated with the state budget--the expert legislative committees, the Legislative Finance Committee, the Department of Finance and Administration, the aforementioned Governor and the Martinez media--should all bow their heads in shame over what they have sowed.

It is disingenuous to blame it all on the crash in oil and gas prices. Taxes were continuously cut for a decade, tens of millions in unspent capital outlay still has not been swept into the general fund and nearly $200 million in insurance company premium taxes remain uncollected. There was a way to avoid this but it required some guts and leadership, not the slash and burn vindictiveness of a failed Fourth Floor nor hide-under-the-desk Democrats.

SHRINKING PAYROLL

It's not as if there are now thousands of more employees on the state payroll causing the budget bust. The  news:

. . . The ranks of state employees have shrunk to the lowest level in almost a decade as government agencies slash spending and freeze hiring. . . The number of state employees has declined 3.4 percent since this time last year and 12 percent over the last eight years, the Legislative Finance Committee reported. Much of the recent decline was caused by state agencies leaving jobs unfilled. . . A total of 15.7 percent of jobs in New Mexico government are vacant. That’s up about 1 percentage point since the beginning of July. The State Personnel Office reported the government payroll included about 21,800 people in August, the lowest number since at least fiscal year 2008.

And that includes vacancies at CYFD that handle child abuse cases like that of the murdered 10 year old Victoria Martens and Omaree Varela.

HEARD IT BEFORE

From Sen. John Arthur Smith writing in the Legislative Finance Committee newsletter:

New Mexico must find a long-term solution to it’s always lagging economy. That will involve balancing public spending with a friendly tax environment; being open to all solutions, including taxes; reforming the state’s revenue structure to eliminate its over reliance on oil and gas; and so on. But I think you’ve heard that before.

He might as well have said if you're under 45 and have half a brain get your posterior across the state line.

LEAN MEAT

Let's head over to the Alligators who are so stuffed with La Politica these days they are eating lean meat:

A bond rating cut means it will cost us more to borrow money to build roads, schools and any other government projects. That means less money for building contractors in the state and for employees who work for those contractors. It is a job killer.  Had a Democrat been in office during a downgrade, it would have been the front page story for a week and the lead story on every news station.

The old business leaders need to be pushed out of the way by a new generation of business leaders for not forcing the Governor to implement a sound fiscal and economic agenda that will help the state. The new business leaders need to understand that they are suffering and have the power to make changes. If they do not act, we will fall more, and they will share in the blame. It is time to step up for your community, your family and most importantly, profits that can be put into your bank account.

"A new generation of business leaders?" Were those the guys we saw hitchhiking to Austin the other day?

MORE GATOR BITES

About the voter turnout so far, one of the tough-skinned Gators writes:

Those low Republican early vote numbers are telling me there's no energy being generated by the GOP.  In 2000 and 2004 you saw stronger Republican turnout numbers and active GOP turnout efforts, and it pushed Bush and others over the finish line. The man who wrote "the art of the deal" can't close this deal. Low energy, Donald. If the GOP can't get their people excited, I see a few incumbent GOP legislators going down. If they don't go down and they sneak through, local Dems are going to wish they had organized a better message.

The Dems "organize a message?" What's the old saying? "I'm a Democrat, I belong to no organized political party."

THE SANCHEZ AD

Lots of mail about that TV ad from the Guv's political machine featuring the mothers of child murder victims crying and blaming their loss on Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez. A lot of our mail deals with the father of four year old Lilly Garcia, the little girl whose mother is in the ad and who was killed in a road rage incident in ABQ a year ago. From a court hearing on Lily's case:

“I was in fear for my life. He was trying to run me off the road,” said Torrez when he was interviewed by police last October. He was explaining why he felt he had to open fire on a pickup truck on I-40 being driven by Lilly Garcia’s dad. Torrez says he had no idea 4-year-old Lilly and her brother were in the back seat.

Reader Michael Corwin comments

Would Lilly’s mom want the law to apply to Lilly’s father too? After all he engaged in a pissing match with the other driver knowing Lilly was in the car...

FINAL POLL

The second and last poll of the presidential race by the ABQ Journal should be right on the money. Why? The poll will be taken in early November when a good chunk of voters will have already voted early. In some ways, it's almost like an exit poll. The poll results will be published Nov. 6, two days before the Nov. 8 election. There is still a challenge for  veteran pollster Brian Sanderoff and that is nailing down the support for Libertarian Prez candidate and former NM Governor Gary Johnson.

NO THANKS, GARY

The monster Thursday blog rolls on. . . 

Here's ABQ attorney Bob McNeill,  a Democrat stalwart and politico, who is closely watching the presidential race:

My relatives in Philly, like many not happy with either of the two major candidates, asked my opinion of former Gov. Gary Johnson. I said "nice guy, great athlete, but not ready for prime time or presidential politics." I suspect Johnson is the reason for Trump's two point lead over Hillary in Florida in a poll released Wednesday. 

It seems highly unlikely that Trump could win the election, given his propensity for consistently being awful on all fronts. However, Gary could be remembered as the Ralph Nader of 2016, at least in Florida and other close states. Fortunately, Johnson won't likely make a difference in the election outcome, which is Nader's lasting legacy for giving us W and the Iraq fiasco and all that disastrous decisions that led to in the Middle East. I do think Johnson is acting recklessly by running in a contest that could lead to a Trump presidency and making that very frightening outcome at least a possibility by causing folks to indirectly vote for Trump by voting for Johnson.

ANNE HOLTON?

Who is Anne Holton? That's what we asked when the news release touting her visit to ABQ today crossed our desk. Well, she is a judge and a lawyer who served as Virginia's Secretary of Education. More important for campaign purposes--she is the wife of Dem VP contender Tim Kaine. She visits the city today to keep the drumbeat going for Clinton as thousands of early voters continue to trek to the polls. More on Holton here and her local schedule is here.

QUEZADA VS PAIZ

Michael Quezada, the well-known "Breaking Bad" actor, might have thought his troubles were behind him once he won the Dem nomination for the South Valley Bernalillo County Commission seat. While he's still favored to win in the heavy Dem district, he is getting heat from Republican foe Patricia Paiz who recently targeted independent voters with a flyer attacking Quezada over two past DWI arrests. Now Quezada's team strikes back with a complaint to the Secretary of State over Paiz's campaign money:

The finance reports from Patricia Paiz show multiple contributions from LLC’s that have her father Ron Paiz Sr. as the contributor, who gave contributions nearing almost $20,000 in excess of the maximum contribution limit allowed. . . Mr. Ronald (Ron) Paiz Sr. is either the registered agent or organizer for LLCs that have contributed either through LLCs and/or Mr. Paiz’s personal contributions: Total contributions of $11,500 versus the legal limit of $2,500. For the 2016 General Election (Paiz Sr.) made total contributions of $10,000 versus the contribution limit of $2,500. 

The Secretary of State will ultimately decide whether there has been a violation.

THE BOTTOM LINES

Spanish language Univision comes with an upbeat profile of NM Attorney General Hector Balderas. . . Not much bravado in this missive from the NM GOP on keeping control of the state House. Party staffer Michelle Chavez wrote in a fund-raising pitch to fellow R's:

Dear Supporter, We've looked at the early voting numbers and if we're going to keep our majority, we will need to step up our game in the last two weeks. This week we have put more people in place to knock on doors and make phone calls, encouraging Republicans to get out and vote.

ABQ Dem Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham has some fun on her roller-skates in her latest TV ad. She seems quite practiced. 'Tis the season

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