The Decline and Unnecessary Fall of New Mexico

There are recent Journal stories about the vibrancy of the economy in Colorado and the obvious contrast to New Mexico.

I have spent a fair amount of time in the Denver area in last couple of years and the boom is not limited to Denver but also in suburbs like Lone Tree and Centennial.

Yes, New Mexico has had its setbacks in recent years. But the big problem is that New Mexico has been acting like the business that reacts to slowing sales by reducing salaries, cutting the advertising budget and eliminating research and development. Predictably, the business fails.

We’re doing something similar in New Mexico. We reduce taxes, let our roads go to pot and cut education at all levels.

And let there be no doubt economic downturns are always accompanied by rising crime rates.

Do we really think this all will end well? No, we have to change our ways.

Here are some ideas.

We need to professionalize our state economic development efforts by bringing in the best candidates we can to lead our efforts, no matter where they come from.

We need to fix our roads using increased road taxes, especially in light of lower gasoline prices. Paying for today’s roads with bonds to be paid off from future tax revenues to be paid by our kids makes no sense at all.

We must improve our K-12 education by paying teachers better and helping them to improve using co-operation, mentoring and incentives instead of hectoring and threats based largely on an impersonal testing regime that too often fails to account for the differences in the capabilities of their students.

We need to invest much more in early childhood education and reduce the cycle of educational failure by getting many more students ready for school. There’s tons of data in New Mexico and elsewhere that prove the success of such programs.

We need to reorganize and properly fund our post-secondary education system to get our students ready for the increasingly complex new world they face.

We need to fix our state tax system that is so fouled up that married couples with $25,000 in taxable income now pay the same rate of income tax as couples with $500,000 in taxable income. What happened to progressive taxation?

And we need to continue efforts to rid the gross receipts tax of all those unjustifiable and self-defeating exemptions and deductions.

Finally, we need cooperation and collaboration, to knock off the name-calling and negativity and work together successfully.

There’s no reason why we can’t accomplish this.

Chuck Wellborn

Leave a Reply