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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Elton John And Tingley, State's Fiscal "Freefall" Continues, Liquor License Debate And Berry And Crime 

The news that baby boomer pop icon Elton John will stop in ABQ for a March concert at Tingley Coliseum a couple of days before this 70th birthday gives rise yet again to the question of why in the world Tingley is still standing?

The Coliseum was built in 1957 and its heyday was decades ago. More recently critics have called the outdated and sometimes dilapidated structure an embarrassment and worse. With interest rates still low (but for how long?) now would be the time to tear down Tingley and construct a new large multi-purpose arena that would draw the acts of the future and send a signal to our fleeing millennial population that we are serious about providing quality of life amenities available in out of state cities only hours away.

Here's a plan: How about holding off on issuing the scads of senior citizen facility bonds for a couple of years and instead float a statewide bond issue to begin a rebuild of Tingley that is aimed at the young of today and future generations? The city and BernCo could devote some of their bonding capacity as well.

Clyde Tingley was a great ABQ mayor who helped build modern Albuquerque. He would be proud to have his name carry on into the new country but not atop what has become a symbol of a stagnant state that has stopped planning for its future. Will just one of the 112 legislators publicly declare it's time for a new Tingley and begin to tackle the financing? We mean sometime before Elton John turns 80?

FISCAL "FREEFALL"

“We don’t know where the bottom is yet on the freefall that we’re in." So declared Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith in reacting to the latest grim news over the state budget:

Revenue streams declined by more than 9 percent during the first quarter of the current fiscal year, state fiscal analysts announced.  The Legislative Finance Committee released figures that show general fund revenues fell to $1.3 billion for the three-month period ending in September--down 9.4 percent compared with the same period last year. Revenues for the month of September were down nearly 12 percent from a year ago.

The energy price crash remains the main culprit but the overall lethargic economy--as evidenced by lower personal income and gross receipts tax collections--is also to blame.

Sen. Smith calls it a fiscal freefall. Others call it an economic death spiral. The Legislature completed a special session in early October where the state budget was whacked with across the board budget cuts of five percent or more. But they left town still facing a deficit for the current budget year that began July 1 and ends June 30:

The solvency package, a mix of spending cuts and one-time fixes, will generate an estimated $370.8 million in savings for the current fiscal year. . . But it appears to not be enough to fully solve the state’s financial woes, as New Mexico is facing a projected $458 million shortfall for the budget year that started in July.

Now when they go back into session In January it will be even worse--by tens of millions of dollars.

We appear to be on the road from turning a crisis into a calamity with layoffs of hundreds of state employees a possibility. Already, the state Cultural Affairs Department has let workers go.

LIQUOR DEBATE

A reader suggested here that the state buy back the valuable liquor licenses out there and reset the rules so more small businesses can afford the licenses. James O'Neill of O'Neill consulting says not so fast:

The price of liquor licenses have soared here because of the overall cap on the number of licenses. The state could lower the free market price of licenses by eliminating or significantly raising the cap. The state does not need to buy the licenses back; in fact in might be unconstitutional for the state to try to do so. See 1981's Chronis v. State
ex rel Rodriquez. The licenses already belong to the state.

STATE OF THE CITY

In lieu of analyzing or commenting on ABQ Mayor Berry's annual state of the city speech this week, we instead offer this graphic of the city's crime rate. That about covers the state of the city for 2016.

Ya think?

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2016

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