Monday, January 05, 2015

Those Stumbling Dems: They Drop The Ball Right Out Of The New Year's Gate, Plus: Questions Over Berry's Bonds And What's For Dinner? We've Got Your Inaugural Menu 

2015 is beginning on an inauspicious note for New Mexico Democrats who never miss a chance to pound the table over the need for increasing the minimum wage. So what happens right out of the New Year's gate? The Bernalillo County Commission--controlled by the Democrats--drops the ball--not the one in Times Square--and forgets to raise the hourly minimum wage by fifteen cents per hour.

The cost-of-living adjustment to the $8.50 an hour minimum in the unincorporated areas of the county went by the wayside Jan. 1 because of a technicality--it wasn't posted in October on the county's web site as was legally required. Talk about a head shaker. . .

State Dems have been flummoxed to come up with much of anything in the way of a macro economic program to drag the state out of the recessionary gutter it's been in for over five years. The minimum wage has been the one issue they have been able to use to separate themselves from the Republicans who are traditional grinches when it comes to raising the minimum pay for those lowest on the economic ladder.

For forgetting their most vulnerable constituents--and their most loyal base voters--the BernCo Democrats get the first NM Razzie Award of the new year--or something like it.


Outgoing NM Dem Party Chair Sam Bregman offers an alternate reality for his party for the 2014 election. In his New Year's message he put a cheery face on what most Dems saw as a dreary outcome:

We have much to be thankful for. Senator Tom Udall was re-elected along with Congresswoman Michelle Lujan Grisham and Congressman Ben Ray Luján. Together with Senator Martin Heinrich, New Mexico Democrats represent 4 out of 5 federal offices. . . Hector Balderas (is) Attorney General, joining Tim Keller as our new State Auditor and Tim Eichenberg as our State Treasurer. In addition, there are 2 new PRC members, Lynda Lovejoy and Sandy Jones, giving Democrats a 4-1 majority on the Public Regulation Commission.

But the big story was the historic takeover of the state House by the GOP, the Republican upset victory in the state land commissioner race and another history maker when the R's managed to get a GOP Secretary of State re-elected for the first time in decades. And, of course, there was the trouncing Gov. Martinez gave Dem Gary King. As we've blogged repeatedly, it's the tale of two parties: For the Federal offices the Dems are in fine shape and put up a fight. For everything else? Not so much.


Some city watchers of a conservative stripe are arguing that ABQ Mayor Berry and the city council could give us a much larger bond issue for long term city improvements.

They say they should take property tax money that has been shifted over to the general city budget and put it back in the bond budget. That way, they say, we could have a much larger bond issue go before voters this October, rather than the measly $115 million that Berry is proposing.

But if you take that property tax money from the general fund what happens to city services? What are you going to cut to make up the difference if you shift that money back?  And where are you going to get the money to maintain any new projects that are created with extra bond money? That has to come from the regular annual budget,

The frustration is understandable. ABQ's Great Stagnation has caused revenues to flat line and the semi-annual bond issue to drop from a peak of $164 million. But Berry can't start shifting millions of dollars that's needed to fund regular city services like street cleaning and park maintenance. Something has to give and in this case, unfortunately, it is long-term improvements.

GOP Bernalillo County Commissioner Wayne Johnson puts it this way when commenting on the county's financial crunch:

Reevenues have been relatively flat, and expenses have increased at a faster rate. If we had an expanding economy, where revenue from property taxes was growing because more people were moving into the county, rather than raising taxes on existing property owners, and if we had more businesses and jobs, then we wouldn’t be facing this problem. 

ABQ and Bernalillo County have always been the engines that drive state economic growth but now face long-term economic woes that are going to mean more budgets that are down, flat or barely cover the rate of inflation. It will only stop when we add jobs that pay well and that spin off taxes to the city and county--or if we raise property or  gross receipts taxes even more.


A self described "education Alligator" writes:

It's going to be one heck of an interesting legislative session. Recent news articles have discussed ABQ GOP State Senator Sander Rue's Right to Work legislation with regard to private companies. Nowhere have I seen exposure of his far more insidious (and blatant attack on public sector unions) bill, Senate Bill 93, an act "revising the public employee bargaining act to prohibit payroll deductions of membership dues." As a teacher, I can request deductions for health insurance, United Way, retirement, but not for my union?

A list of bills prefiled for the upcoming legislative session is here.


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The Alligators (our name for our unnamed sources) have an unparalleled record of breaking both the little and big stories of La Poltica. They've been strutting their stuff for over 11 years and they're back in '15 with their first juicy tidbit for readers of New Mexico's #1 political web site. So without further ado take a look at the menu for the inaugural dinner for Governor Martinez held at the ABQ Convention Center New Year's night.

That green chile wrapped filet mignon sure sounds tasty and we're wild about rainbow carrots, although we don't know if they were worth the $100 a plate folks paid.

Good job, Gators, but what were the desserts available at 'stations near your table.'? Was there any cake served? As in 'Let them eat cake.'?

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