By Tom Wright May 14, 2021 Updated May 14, 2021 The latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau was revealing to New Mexico. We only grew 2.8 percent… Read More
Latest Member Analysis
By Tom Wright
May 14, 2021 Updated May 14, 2021
The latest report from the U.S. Census Bureau was revealing to New Mexico. We only grew 2.8 percent in the past 10 years. At NMjobkiller.com and Adelante Now Foundation, we documented the stories of why more people are leaving the Land of Enchantment and its high taxes than are moving here. The primary reasons were to find work and, recently, to be able to send their kids to school in a live classroom.
Traditionally, New Mexico ends up at or near the bottom of most of the bad lists, like child poverty, food insecurity, crime, literacy, family income, adverse regulatory business climate, medically underserved communities, a pyramiding gross receipts tax system and lack of jobs. Collectively, all of these reasons and more are the cause of our slow growth, declining enrollment in public and university level schools, and general economic stagnation.
Politicians take note: This is your fault. The latest report from CNBC’s annual best and worst states for business rated New Mexico number 45 in education, number 44 in quality of life and number 44 in business friendliness.
The reason a census is taken is to determine congressional districts and better plan the future. As a benchmark, the national population grew by 7.4 percent. If the reasons for this slow growth are ignored or considered OK, then our education system will never improve and be adequate, and businesses will elect to stay in states where the profits will be larger and taxes and regulatory costs are less.
With new regulations being imposed on the oil and gas industry and our governor and her lawmakers approving recreational marijuana to add to our tax revenue, it is yet to be seen just how this new industry sector will help the ills of our state. In fact, the social cost is yet to be counted. Even Intel’s much-touted $3.5 billion expansion sounds really great, but it brings only 700 jobs. With our lagging educational system, how many jobs will be filled from out of state?
Growth depends on available jobs, and jobs depend largely on a good educational system, safe cities to attract businesses and competitive tax policy. The bottom line is: We need politicians who are awake and willing to make changes, and we, the voters who send these politicians to represent us, need to hold them accountable.
Just looking at the last 10 years, not much has changed for the better. And whose fault is that — the ones fleeing our state or us, the voters? In fact, our legislative balance hasn’t changed much in the past 10 years, except for the increasing number of Democrats in office. For sure, we have more Democratic voters in New Mexico, and granted, it may not all be the fault of politicians, including both Republican and Democratic governors over the past 10 years. We voters must take some responsibility for the rule-makers we elect and reelect.
If New Mexico is going to grow in all areas, we must change leadership and learn from the examples of prosperous states. This really should not be a partisan issue. Pride in our political affiliations should not be as important as the people we send to represent our best interests. The solution belongs to all of us to elect politicians with fresh and real solutions and not the same ol,’ same ol.’
Tom Wright is a director of Adelante Now Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to improving educational outcomes in New Mexico.
News & Reports
Albuquerque Business First
Albuquerque has the 10th lowest student debt in the country, according to a LendingTree report. Washington, D.C was first among metros with high median student loan balances, where nearly 10 percent of loan holders owe more than $100,000.
The cost of a four-year education has increased by five times in the last 20 years, and student-debt is a $1.5 trillion industry, a huge leap compared to $600 billion a decade ago, says LendingTree.
The median balance of student debt in Albuquerque is $15,549. The average number of student loans held by a single person is 3.5. Nearly 19 percent of people in Albuquerque owe more than $50,000 and roughly 6 percent of people owe more than $100,000 in student-loan debt.
The New Mexico Public Education Department is launching a three-year training initiative for 10 high schools in the state.
The schools chosen by PED are: West Mesa, Belen, Bernalillo, Cuba, Española Valley, Rocinante, Miyamura, Gilbert L Sena Charter, Health Leadership and Las Montanas Charter high schools. PED picked the schools, which were identified for Comprehensive Support and Improvement or CSI, to be the first to partake in the inaugural New Mexico High School Redesign Network.
Secretary-designate Christopher Ruszkowski said the program aims to help the schools move out of CSI, a category for low-performing schools.
One of the main goals of the redesign network is to help raise graduation rates, as the schools’ rates are below 67 percent.
As is typical with so many other policies, federal meddling in what should be a local matter leads to poor results.
This is the conclusion reached Monday by a Heritage Foundation panel about a school discipline initiative, launched by the Obama administration, that suddenly became the subject of national debate after the Feb. 14 massacre at a high school in Parkland, Florida.
Earlier this week, CBS’ “60 Minutes” grilled Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on why she supports the idea that families like the Richardsons should be able to choose where and how their children learn. Reporter Lesley Stahl said traditional public schools are doing better today at educating students, and that allowing families to make choices results in less money for traditional schools.
Stahl didn’t provide evidence for these claims, so her line of questioning is worth a closer look.
Economy and Job Creation
Albuquerque Business First
When the stampede for acreage in the Delaware Basin began in 2016, many across southern New Mexico had already given up on the state’s oil patch and left for jobs elsewhere. Despite a steady recovery, the previous two years of free-falling prices clearly took a toll on the local economy.
Eighteen months later, New Mexico is firmly at the center of a broader national comeback by the oil and gas industry. Last year, New Mexican output was nearly 470,000 barrels a day, up 17 percent from the previous year and more than doubling since 2011. New Mexicans haven’t seen an upswing in output like that since the 1960s.
The revival of the state’s oil sector has brought new employment and investment opportunities. Those opportunities are increasingly among the oilfield service companies that handle the drilling and day-to-day operational activities for the big producers.
Albuquerque Business First
(Part 4 in a 4 part series)
Government work. That’s the past and present of the New Mexico jobs story.
So, what’s the future of that story?
In the short term, health care looks likely to boom, along with the hospitality industry and education.
But what about the jobs that aren’t in the Land of Enchantment yet, the ones that might bring the state’s stubbornly high unemployment rate closer to parity with the national average?
While it is difficult to quantify an intangible, there are educated opinions on what might narrow the current jobs gap. New types of technology may bring job types to the state that aren’t here now. More mid-level careers could bolster a market already represented on the higher and lower ends. And getting significant numbers of people to relocate to New Mexico to make up for the young people who leave because they perceive a lack of opportunity would generate additional long-term jobs in existing categories like construction and health care.
Wall Street Journal
President Trump issued an executive order Tuesday encouraging federal agencies to adopt more-stringent work requirements for various welfare programs. What can Congress do to encourage work? Two possibilities are increasing the minimum wage and expanding the earned-income tax credit. My recent research shows that these two policies can have very different, and perhaps unintended, effects on the ability to become economically self-sufficient over time.
Carenet Healthcare Services, a Texas-based health care support company, is expanding to Albuquerque with plans for 244 jobs over the next five years.
The San Antonio-based firm will also invest $3 million in the former Bank of America building at 303 Roma NW. The sum includes a 10-year lease, tenant improvements, furniture, fixtures and equipment, according to information provided by Albuquerque Economic Development Inc.
Gov. Susana Martinez, at a news conference Tuesday, called the Carenet announcement a “positive result of the reforms implemented to grow and diversify our economy.”
In response to public concern and questions over how Albuquerque police handled a teacher’s child abuse report, all Albuquerque police officers have been issued what the mayor called “common sense” new orders.
Police Chief Michael Geier issued three special orders on Wednesday that require all officers called to a possible child abuse call to collect any possible evidence, preserve all on-body camera footage indefinitely and access a law enforcement portal that provides police with information on prior contact between the family and social workers.
Wall Street Journal
A common refrain from businesses is that they can’t find enough workers. The unemployment rate is a low 4.1%, but one reason for the shortage are government benefits that corrode a culture of work. So credit to House Republicans for trying to fix disincentives in food stamps amid what are sure to be nasty and dishonest attacks.
Albuquerque Business First
New Mexico was at the bottom of the list again this year, while Massachusetts was named the best state to raise a family, followed by Minnesota and New Hampshire.
Not helping New Mexico's case is having the highest unemployment rate in the country (6.1 percent), high child care costs, the state's violent crime rate and the percentage of families living in poverty. New Mexico had the second-highest rate of violent crimes per capita and the second-highest percentage of families living in poverty. New Mexico's median household income is $45,674 and 36.2 percent of children under the age of 5 in New Mexico live in poverty, according to the U.S. Census. Violent crime in the state rose by 6.8 percent between 2015 and 2016, according to the FBI.
The New Mexico Senate on Wednesday approved a two-pronged measure to provide “immediate relief” to those who have struggled for years with the abuses of a closed legal guardianship/conservator system, while creating the framework for a comprehensive system overhaul by 2020. Under the measure approved Wednesday, court hearings that are now closed would be open to the public as of July 1. Family members would have more access to guardianship records and visitation wouldn’t be as easily thwarted by commercial guardians, who also have been accused in some cases of profligate spending and excessive fees. Nonfamily conservators would have to post bonds in case financial impropriety occurred.
Adelante Now Foundation’s overall mission is to help improve education in the state of New Mexico. For over a decade Adelante Now funded tutoring in a few Rio Grande valley public schools. The tutoring was directed at elementary school children who were not reading at grade level or who were not grasping the elements of math. The tutoring program was rewarding to most of the tutored children – and to us. Yet, each year we were reminded that there are many more fundamental problems with New Mexico’s education system than our tutoring program was capable of remedying. We found that the problems are often circular in nature and often have unexpected causations.
Education problems in the state often are affected by family problems. Family problems often are connected to the lack of job availability. The lack job availability arises from the lack of sufficient job creation in the state. The lack of sufficient job creation arises from multiple problems including the lack of a sufficiently educated workforce to support broad job creation. Again, the problems appear to us often to be circular in nature.
We asked, “Would it be possible to devise a long term plan to move New Mexico away from many of these problems? Could a plan be devised that would improve educational outcomes in the state, improve job creation in the state, and strengthen families in the state?
Our new mission is to answer these questions. We started our new mission in 2015 by contracting with the Bureau of Business and Economic Research at the University of New Mexico to compare job creation in New Mexico with job creation in surrounding states. This was step one. Now for step two.