Saturday, August 12, 2017

R.I.P. New Mexico

The new population figures are in, and since the 2010 census, the population of New Mexico has grown by a staggering 1%.  Or perhaps a better term is stagnation.

Most of the states surrounding New Mexico, the remaining states of the Southwest, had robust growth.  Texas grew by over 10%, Arizona by more than 8%.  While official numbers do not exist, it is rather obvious that if you discount immigration from Mexico, the population actually shrank.

The news gets even worse:  While roughly the same number moved out of the state as into it (about 50,000 people), the only age groups that are growing are the retired and the young adults (ages 20-24).  Working age (which you should read that as "tax-paying age") New Mexicans are shrinking in number--and the situation is not likely to improve soon.

New Mexico is losing its seed corn--well, it’s losing the young working-age adults, ages 25-40)--and way too many of them are college-educated young professionals.  New Mexico goes to great expense to educate these young people, with fine public colleges and then we lose them.

There are so many college graduates leaving that, despite the large graduating classes of the numerous state universities, in some recent years the total number of graduates residing in the state actually decreased.

Over the years, I have asked the students in a number of my classes how many of them planned to leave the state after graduation and the answers were always depressing.  Except for a few non-traditional students (that’s educationalese for "older students")--many of whom were already retired--and a few married students with extensive local family connections, the answer was overwhelmingly in favor of emigration to find jobs.  The most popular destinations were Texas, Colorado, Arizona, and California.

When you consider that tuition covers only a small part of the cost of educating a college student, it is commendable that a poor state continues to pay such a large amount (some estimates put it as high as $56,000 a student) to educate workers who promptly leave New Mexico. 

It is possible that the most expensive export crop from New Mexico is not our green chile, our pecans, or even the mountains of ugly turquoise we sell to tourists:  It is our educated young--our seed corn.  

As the population of New Mexico continues to age, the need for social services and health care will continue to rise, continually increasing the drain on state funds while, paradoxically, the number of tax payers will actually shrink.  Will the state government raise taxes forcing more businesses to leave the state?  Would the government dare to cut programs?

Unemployment in the state is rising, and new employment in the traditional industries is unlikely to rise.  Our largest employers are the research labs, the military bases, state agencies, the state education system, and hospitals--all of which depend on tax revenues.  In the face of shrinking budgets, some of these employers have already started laying off employees.

Obviously, the state needs to attract new employers so that we can create jobs.  New Mexico has a business income tax higher than any of our neighbors have, and while the state has started to lower the tax, this was done--predictably--in small steps.  While the rate has been lowered a little, we will not be competitive with any of the other states in the Southwest until 2018, at which time we will be slightly lower than…Oklahoma...but still much higher than the rest of the states.

I doubt the remaining tax decreases will ever happen.  Already, politicians are proclaiming that the experiment has failed:  “Taxes were lowered and no new jobs appeared.”  There are already cries to raise business taxes to help balance the budget.

It is very hard to determine what effect cutting business taxes have actually had on the economy of New Mexico.  The tax cut was small, recent, and occurred while the state had large fluctuations in the prices of oil and natural gas.  This is a small state, with a population equivalent to Houston's.  As the price of oil and gas fluctuates, so does the New Mexico economy.  When the price of oil dropped in 2016, the state coffers ran dry.  As the price has recovered slightly this year, the economy has improved--marginally.

There are lots of proposals on how to attract employers to the state, all of them made by politicians who have never employed anyone.  Among the suggestions are expanding high-speed internet, increasing spending on education, increasing intercity rail traffic, legalizing marijuana, and providing more job training.  The state has a long history of promoting unorthodox schemes to boost revenue:  We have built a deserted Spaceport, we have an empty tourist train, and we have loaned millions to Hollywood producers who will never pay this money back...All to no avail.

I’m sure that all of these innovative proposals might be attractive to some prospective employers, but I have a simple question I would like answered before the state spends the money on the next get-rich-quick scheme.

Why are there so many employers in El Paso?

Thirty miles south of New Mexico along Interstate 10, is the city of El Paso.  This will never be my favorite city, as it is dirty, crowded, badly laid out, and seems to be run by politicians too stupid to even be allowed in the New Mexico legislature. 

If you drive south from New Mexico, as you enter Texas, the highway is almost continuously lined with warehouses, factories, and businesses.  If any of these had located in New Mexico, it would have been big news.  Our governor recently made a speech because Facebook is building a facility in the state that will employ a hundred people.  If they were to hire two hundred people, we might declare a state holiday.

El Paso does not have high-speed rail, super-fast internet, or any more job fairs than New Mexico does.  They also do not have a Spaceport.  My university classes were full of Texas students for two decades, and they seemed intellectually on par with those from New Mexico.  While I support education, if there is a lack of it in New Mexico, it is not the reason there are no employers rushing to the state.

I'd like to offer three suggestions to attract employers.  First, finish lowering business taxes.  They are currently at 6%:  I would lower them to 4.5% to match Colorado, which is notoriously business friendly. 

Second, New Mexico needs to be a Right to Work State, like Texas, Arizona, Utah, Oklahoma, and Nevada.  This state strongly protects union jobs that the state has never had and since closed shop states rarely have expanding industrial bases, it only makes sense to stop being a closed shop state.  Since the only large unions in the state are all for public employees, perhaps we could compromise with the unions and allow those for government employees to remain closed shops.

The last suggestion is almost impossible to achieve, because it is simply not in the nature of New Mexico.  However, since I have already suggested the near impossible, why not ask for the moon?

New Mexico needs a stable legislature--one that will not reverse itself every two to four years.  The state needs to project the image of a state that will not, on a whim, pass legislation repealing the law of gravity, or making pi equal to 3.0 so it will be easier to teach to children.  Our state government needs the type of maturity and stability that will reassure potential employers that shortly after a new business opens here, the state will not decide on a whim to outlaw electricity or to allow businesses to be open only three days a week.  Getting the "Land of Mañana" to that point will take some time, so we need to get started (yesterday)!

66 comments:

  1. I shall never forget this quote by a state representative when the project was complete:

    "Paris has its Eiffel Tower and we have our Big I."

    That's what passes for intelligence in New Mexico.

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  2. I hope people who make decisions read your column. A recent roadblock to employment and business I have encountered is the NM driver's license requirements for showing proof of residency. I have a great hard working young man who cannot get his NM license even though he has a birth certificate and a social security card just because he does not have any state issued ID and does not have a utility bill in his name. He lives with his father and son will be getting his own apartment for his expectant girlfriend but he cannot get a utility bill in his name without ID. He cannot get ID without a utility bill. This is utterly frustrating and like a communist country with so much red tape. How many more young high school graduates or college graduates are in the same situation? There needs to be more latitude of what can be shown as proof of residency.

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  3. The one thing missing from your article is the elephant (or should I say donkey) in the room. This poor state has been under direct control of the Democrats almost from the beginning. The one thing we know about Democratic leadership is they want people poor and addicted to handouts. But only if the democrats control those handouts. They do not want a State full of self thinking go getters, they want people poor and dependant.

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    2. Nail on the head!

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  4. remove all the ignored corruption and quit protecting people such as county managers and other non elected positions that perhaps should be elected and more limitation on term limits .... stop the corruption in our justice (non-justice) system... etc. etc. etc.

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  5. another conservative telling new mexicans how good it could be if___________________. Mark take I-10 back home.

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    1. Sorry, but my family has lived in the Southwest for generations. And while I have only lived in New Mexico for 30 plus years, the state needs the tax revenue from my home and business. And so far today, I have been denounced for being both a conservative, a liberal, and a socialist. One writer even suggests I go back to Berkeley. (Good school, but I only visited for a day. I envy the library.)

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    2. @Mark Miiliorn, this article transcends bipartisan beliefs. Great approach to writing something intrinsically politi Al but near-and-dear to the hearts of any New Mexican who has looked around and seen what's going on. Our state is a magical place but is perennially mis-managed. I was born in NM but emigrated several times out of economic hardship. Opportunities that pay well, are interesting and allow you to stay within the NM state borders are far too few! The idea of change is alive in New Mexicans although the most interested New Mexicans may be far away waiting to hear more news like this before they return with their skills and expertises. Keep this stuff coming! And thank you for writing this!

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    3. oh, wow! Another democrat that likes his state poor. I moved here from the east, love the weather and most people, but something has to change or I'll be taking my business and taxes elsewhere also.

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  6. New Mexico's biggest issue is the sitting state government consists of Uber Liberal Californian Atrtisans that think the Utopian Parental Government can actually work. The State has too many regulations and agencies to run them and they contradict not only themselves but hinder growth. One hand doesn't know what the other is doing, and many in these agencies look for and cause problems because the people in these agencies try too hard to justify their positions.

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  7. Milliorn and many of the comments hit upon things I've also said - some even down to minutiae - and the point to all this may be it's not going to change. Odds of meaningful change are slim to none. Poverty is big business in New Mexico. Most other business is shut out or taxed out, and those that exist are reviled. It's not bad jewelry that keeps the schools open, for now; it's industry and energy, both of which are constantly fought against in preference to schemes...all of which seem to have "tourism" as the hook. I worked in grants and I'll say that people on the outside are really trying to help, with tens of millions poured in from Daniels Fund and Kellogg (setting aside the obvious of Medicaid). All that money filters through the same hands repeatedly. Anyway. Tired of saying it. It's in the article and comments, but there's the little bit I can add.

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  8. When I asked executives of General Mills if they have considered New Mexico for a new factory they said it was dismissed for one major reason. They would not be able to get senior staff to move here. When I asked why, he said because of the poor education in New Mexico, and the crime. I have staff at my business (two attended the same school) that know nothing of New Mexico history (except what they learned here). They do not know about Kerney, Cochise, Kit Carson, Geronimo, Nana, or even that it used to be part of Spain. When I asked what they did in New Mexico history class, they said they watched Indiana Jones videos. That is not a question of funding for education, that is a function of teaching and teachers. The crime is obvious. So much crime is drug related. One other suggestion. When interviewing people for jobs at our business I was offering 2 dollars above the minimum wage. I had an unmarried couple with four children tell me they did not want the job, just the application. Why? So they could continue to get social benefits (Welfare) which exceeded the $10/hr. wage for unskilled labour. There are jobs in NM. But because of the welfare state we have created, the people that want jobs, are working.

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  9. My son is desperately short of qualified help at his business. He, too has people frequently applying just for the continuation of benefits.

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  10. Lived in NM 20+ yrs. dealt with "movers & shakers"; started tech companies, was on executive board of NMACI, etc. New Mexico simply needs more "outsiders" (those dreaded Anglos with $$$ & talent & vision, so vehemently hated by xenophobic & consanguinious No.NM). Only 1 way now to attract them, because 50+ yrs. of goofy social nostrums from America's most dystopic state capital, Santa Fe, have failed. Use half your ~$23-25 BILLION "permanent funds" to zero-out ALL state income taxes (not GRT); the numbers work, and no one need suffer (even as NM's "enacted" state budgets are routinely 200% greater per capita than her neighbors). Let's face it, NM isn't some isolated barren state like the Dakotas, W.Va, or a place with systemic racial problems like Mississippi, etc. It's a beautiful state, tons of resources, unique climate, and hundreds of billions $$$ spend in science & technology, etc. sitting ring-side to the 3rd largest economy in the Western Hemisphere. You simply need more 'outsiders' and outside investment...nothing else but this tax reform plan will work.

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  11. New Mexico has been run by a solidly Democratic legislature for over 80 years. They are the reason that NM is in the situation it is in, and no one else. NM has a weak governor and a strong legislature. The Democrats allow the Republicans to win the Governorship occasionally so that the Democrats can say
    - " see we are not in charge all of the time" -
    when in reality the Democrats are in charge all the time. Only in recent memory have the Republicans been in control of the House, and they lost that control in the next election. Look at the current legal battle. The Democrats don't like the fact that the Governor vetoed some of their legislation, so they took it to court. A Democrat judge ( who has to stand for re-election and is dependent on the Democrat party for support) ruled the veto was improper and the legislation will become law. The Governor undoubtedly will appeal to the NM Supreme court for a final hearing. The court is stacked against the Governor. The court has 4 Democrats and 1 Republican. All of whom have to stand for re-election. Want to bet that the Governor will be rebuffed by the NM Supreme court in a 4-1 decision ?

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    1. Joe Roberts, I agree with you in part, in that I do not see a flip-flopping of the legislature as our biggest issue with addressing economic development in NM. However, our present Governor HAS made some very bad decisions for the state, including some of her vetoes. Take, for example, the hemp legislation - not marijuana, but hemp. If you look at what is happening in Kentucky, Oregon and Colorado with the hemp industry (processing facilities going up all over to produce hemp oil, soaps and lotions, clothing, and myriad other products that have nothing to do with drugs), it is easy to see that NM is, once again, behind the curve on this issue, and losing tremendous opportunity for industry development and expansion. No matter if the veto is overruled now, we have lost out on an economic boom that could have carried us over in this period of hard times for oil and gas. That's just one example. i won't even get into how she has hurt education. But, I wonder why this has to be a partisan issue? Your remarks, I believe, are exactly the reason Mark included the topic of partisan politics - sadly, it seems to go down to the constituency, even more than in the Round House. Yet, go to any political group, in any community, and you will likely hear much of the same on the topic of the state economy - we all want more job opportunities, which means more diverse employers, a better labor force with which to entice these employers (and to help those that are already here, including small business), and to resolve the competition with public assistance for workers, as well as address immigration in a manner that is useful. We may not always agree on the means to these ends, but these general messages are everywhere. This is not a partisan issue, and the fact that so many focus on labeling it as such is a part of the issue with resolving it. Be part of the solution; get off the partisan bandwagon.

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  12. So I was born and raised in New Mexico and it was great growing up but as soon as I graduated from college in Alburquerque I immediately was ready to move out because there is literally nothing there and they have no promise of growing so I completely agree with your article since I lived it.

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  13. Try living in Las Cruces and Raising a family on $2000 a month. This place is a joke! I recently traveled to Oklahoma and decided to take a look at jobs and there are plenty , not your typical Las cruces $9 an hour job either.

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  14. One glaring problem you left out, this is a really difficult place to raise children. We have the nations highest drop out rate. We are 50th in the nation for child welfare and 49 for education. Our counterparts in Texas send their kids to school an average of over one month longer than New Mexico sends their students. El Paso has higher graduation rates, more kids attend college, and more students graduate from college. You want more young professionals to stay here you need to make this a place where they feel comfortable having their children attend school and achieve. We have no intention of leaving but the struggle to ensure kids are not falling behind their peers nationally is a big concern. Especially now with further school budget cuts the classes are overcrowded and the teachers stretched well beyond reason.

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    1. You're misinformed. Texas and New Mexico, both, require 180 days for grades 7-12, which is typical around the country. If broken down by hours, New Mexico's requirement of 1080 per school year for 7-12 is actually more than many other states. The problem with education in this state is lack of purposeful funding (which is a nationwide issue), and lack of parental support and involvement. Yes, we do spend a lot of money on public schools, but it's not going to the right areas. Teacher salaries should increase, thereby making it a more attractive career for talented young people. Also, more teachers need to be hired so that class sizes can be decreased. Instead, money goes to for-profit corporations who create programs to sell to schools, knowing full well that the programs won't really help. It's in the financial interests of those corporations to keep Americans thinking that our schools are failing, and that teachers don't know what they're doing.

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  15. I believe New Mexico is missing the mark by ignoring one of our most important industries - agriculture. We have great growing conditions in much of New Mexico, and given the technologies available in this age, there is much that could be done. We are overlooking food, feed and fiber crops, not to mention fuel crops. Another, related industry upon which we need to focus is renewable energy. And this has nothing to do with which side of the argument you choose regarding climate change; it has to do with economics, opportunity and resources. One of the biggest stumbling blocks to development of renewable resources is transmission. There is a lot of controversy and problems with moving the energy generated to the locations where it is needed. We have the benefit of having the most state and federal land in the country, which should help us overcome some of that issue (though there is certainly a big battle over Sun Zia - more politics, and likely poorly placed negotiations so that the project is not as helpful to NM as it could be). Finally, we need to look beyond large industry development. That is important, but so is smaller, more local business development necessary and important in this state. Cottage industries, tourism and other innovation need to be a part of the mix. We must, first and foremost, eliminate our single focus.

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    1. NM's SE quadrant has, estimated by numerous geologists, Lake Erie sized amounts of brackish groundwater. But do you see any effort made to drill it and put forward SMRs (small modular reactors) to power the pumps & desal it? In the state that has all its sci-tech capabilities, & birthed the nuclear age? NO, New Mexico's basic culture is PASSIVE...they wait for someone to do it for 'em. It's why the Catholic priests all over the northern half tell their flocks at Mass routinely, "you're supposed to be taken care of" (really).

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  16. We live in a desert. There's not a lot of water and only so much fertile soil. Logistically, strategically, and realistically, we can't support a large population.

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    1. The Colorado River never makes it to the Ocean.

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  17. Too Many Professionals (i.e. medical profession, education fields, etc) leave..Crime has grown out of control, with the judicial system erratic sentences for criminals..NM fails to recognize their potential for growth. Too Bad, So Sad..

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  18. With federal/state/GRT many of the so called professionals pay more than 50% income tax rate on income. Why would you do that if you could pay 10% less tax living in a neighboring state with a thriving economy and many more choices of big cities to live in?

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  20. Thank you for articulating these connections so well. I've been here 20 years and it's been so depressing to see urban Colorado and Arizona areas flourish with respectable industriousness and practicality, conjoining liberal and conservative tendencies. Not that CO and AZ are perfect, but ... would it be okay with everybody if we deploy SOME of those states' proven strategies here rather than preventing all of them? Okay if we try to grow the economy ... without growing the population overall? I think the rationale against growth in our water-lean state shouldn't be based on how many residents are acceptable (and who really knows that? I doubt it's in any kind of equilibrium presently), but how much asphalt, roof area and emissions are acceptable, and where. Yes, that's a socialist viewpoint, but I think it's less incompatible with economic evolution than punitive business taxes and low land values.

    For me, "stagnation" doesn't quite capture the full character definition of our state's political blindness, narrowness and callousness toward our potential. For example, 310 days of sun per year - we could harvest enough solar power for the nation. We're also economically addicted to the oil and gas industry lobby. We can't just add solar as an energy source and export a massive overage? (Maybe not the best example, but not the only one either.)

    Passing this on to a candidate for governor. Thanks again

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  21. Do you see the small blue line down the center of New Mexico. That controls the state it's that simple they have the bigger number of people.

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  22. I am NM born and raised. I left as soon as my children were school age. We chose Colorado because it was in the top tier education wise, decent cost of living, and at the time in the bottom tier for DWIs and drug usage. Exact opposite of NM. To me parts of NM is like the story of Lobsters in a boiling pot. If a Lobster tries to climb out of the pot the other Lobsters will pull it back in in their own attempts to get out. However, Dolphins will raise an injured Dolphin to the surface for air and work together to help one another. NM needs more team work and less self destruction in general.

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  23. I agree with many point in this article, but it is also important to recognize that NM came into the Union with great disadvantages. The state was forced to set aside land to be owned by the state, land for National Forests and the BLM, and land for Indian Reservations. All of this land is removed from the property tax base. NM has access to only about a third of the state's area for property taxation. By contrast very nearly the entire state of Texas is under private ownership and available for taxation. Texas was able to dictate the terms of its entry into the Union, while New Mexico, hobbled by the fact that it would enter as a free (non-slavery) state, and the fact that there was prejudice over its Hispanic residents, was subjected to some of the most onerous requirements of any state. El Paso, in Texas, does not have a state income tax. Texas doesn't need one- it's property tax base provides abundant revenue. Although the federal government provides some reimbursement to compensate for the lost income from the federal controlled land, it does not come close to replacing what is lost. Consider also that our state highways are similar in scope to Michigan but we have far fewer people to support them. These are structural issues that are not really the fault of either our Democratic or Rebuican administrations, and they are very hard to fix.

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  24. Some good points, Gail, but I have a few problems with some of them. First, New Mexico was actually a slave territory with a slave code. (And very few slaves.) By the time we entered the union, it was almost 50 years after the Civil War, so it was a moot point. The large amount of federal land is certainly different from Texas, but not much different from Arizona, Utah, or Nevada. Why does Tucson have a vibrant economy with an active business sector? What is Tucson doing differently than Las Cruces? As for the highways, personally I would raise the gas tax so that the people passing through the state pay a higher percentage of our taxes. As for Federal help, for every dollar in taxes we pay Washington DC, they return $3. Arizona does a little better because of the Air Force Bases, but we get far more federal help than Utah or Nevada. I think the solution to our problem lies somewhere else.

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    1. I don't have a good answer for all of your points but I offer a few additional points: 1) I think the terms of NM's entry into the union were set when we became a territory, not at the point of admission, although more requirements were imposed in 1912; Las Cruces must compete with El Paso, which, for all its faults is a thriving city with good hospitals and no personal income taxes. Tucson doesn't have that kind of competition right next door. I totally support your point on the gas tax. We get a lot of federal help, I agree, but remember the Feds control a huge amount of our land. I haven't researched it, but I suspect we have more federally controlled land (including Indian reservations and checkerboard areas, than most other western states. Nevertheless, like I said earlier, I agree with your points. I encountered your comments when my son posted it to FB as justification for his move to Colorado. I just wanted to point out that NM has structural problems that must be understood in context. I have thought a lot
      about why our outcome has been so different from AZ and don't have an answer that I can justify with facts.

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    2. One more point- as I understand it NM outlawed black slavery, the better to protect, alas, its thriving trade in Native American slavery. I'm no student of history, but I always through we entered as a non- slave territory, at least w respect to African American slaves.

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  25. Well written. I would argue that you're missing the largest fix New Mexico needs to make and that is its education system. Along with the higher tax rates, businesses aren't locating here due to our lack of skilled, educated workers. Until our high school graduation rates (and grades) improve, New Mexico won't even begin to be able to support any company that decides to relocate here.

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    1. You could be right, but I find little difference in graduation rates between El Paso students and Las Cruces students. I spent twenty years teaching at the university level and couldn't tell much difference. Education improvements are never a bad idea, and I support them, but I don't think that is the difference between the two cities. And I can name a half dozen thriving businesses that left Las Cruces and relocated in Texas. We need to ask ourselves why.

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  26. Right about everything except that marijuana legalization is a gimmick. Ask Colorado how much of a gimmick BILLIONS of dollars are. Conservatives in New Mexico have to quit talking out of both sides of their mouths. "Get government out of our lives!" "NO ONE should smoke marijuana." What a joke, and the fact that Suzanna Martinez got elected TWICE is proof that even the Republicans in New Mexico get what they deserved. Was born and raised there and headed to Texas at the age of 28 because of lack of opportunity. Like everyone else, I'll move back when I'm ready to retire.

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    1. I have no objection to marijuana. And it may very well lead to an increase in tax revenue. But I sincerely doubt that it will lead to more businesses locating in NM. I think--and this is just a personal guess--that marijuana may prove to be like gambling. When only a few states did it, it was profitable. When almost every state allowed it, many of the new casinos went bankrupt. As we allowed casinos in NM, it all but destroyed the horse racing industry. But, you could be right.

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    2. Mark, I actually agree with you. I believe we should have been the 2nd state to do it. We would have gotten a ton of money off the bat and prepared ourselves for it turn into more of an alcohol or tobacco tax revenue. NM will probably be late to the ball, as always.

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  27. I was born and raised in Abq, I left and lived in AZ for 7 years working mostly in the same field (pharmacy). I came back to NM, applied for tons of jobs in my field and did not get a single call back. I literally applied for 1 job in AZ again and got the position. When I lived in Abq before my initial move, I had the same issues. The only way I could get into a good job was to have someone get me into it. It's not what you know, it's who you know and people are tired of playing games so they leave.

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  28. I was born and raised.....left and came back years later....but guess what...NOTHING changed!! NO PROGRESS....people complain about a train and developing public transit in Albuquerque....the problem is not politics but the CULTURE and mindset of New Mexicans! Without a demand nothing changes....I left again because Suzanna Martinez cut funding for film festivals/arts/.....and so my job was eliminated....I am now in Europe happy with a job because they fund the arts here...and public transportation.... Move into the new Millennium...it is not just factories and "jobs"...it is what is there to go do after I get off work??!! Concerts? Night life? easy to go to another city....Trains? Anything?

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  29. I am stuck until my mother passes away. I try and try to get good work and it just does not happen. I will leave as soon as I can family cabin in Eagle Nest since 1956 but living and surviving here is damned difficult. I vote and try to change things but it seem our politicians do not care about anything but lining their own pockets.

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    1. I am so sorry. Our politicians do not seem to understand that there is a difference between being trapped in poverty and the idyllic peaceful village life they falsely believe they are creating.

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  30. Thank you for this blog! I'm still in Albuquerque after getting a Communication Studies (i.e. useless) degree at NMSU, and I got a great job by the grace of God. I feel like I may be in the minority though, which is very sad. Is there anything I can do to help your very reasonable solutions become realized? I don't know anyone in government here, so I feel a bit paralyzed on that front.

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  32. Rayon is that the very top of problems for new mexico. No jobs old run down houses and meth heads everywhere. This town is horrible I can't wait to move out.

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  33. Well, Mark you managed to hit a hot spot with this week's blog. I was feeling bad that I'd waited till Tuesday to make my weekly smart ass comment, but now I see I needn't have. Having lived in Portales for a year, I can appreciate your commentary on the state of the Sunshine State. It was spot on from when I was there in 78-79. It appears things haven't gotten much better since I rolled out of Portales in a U-Haul, broke, my car repossessed and with $400 to my name in all the world.

    I would, however, add a couple of suggestions to your list:

    1. Move the State Capital to Clovis. It's in a nice conservative farming area, people are friendly and it's close to Texas where some ideas might rub off on the legislature while they are in session.

    2. Add a steep VAT tax to all Starbucks products, Che' Guevara T-shirts, Dream Catchers, oil paints, water colors Doc Martins and Crocs.

    3. Make Rush Limbaugh the official New Mexico State Radio Commentator (that would run off about 30% of them who could never live in a state where Rush was the official state anything).

    4. Only allow the state legislature to meet for two months every two or three years and pay them accordingly so that they have to get real jobs the rest of the time. It works for us in Texas.

    5. Ask the federal government to annex several million acres around the entire Santa Fe area, declare it a wilderness and make all the hippies living there move south into the desert.

    I think you might see some of your liberal infestation migrate elsewhere. Unfortunately, they'll probably all go to Texas where the economy is and financial opportunities are better than California. You could deport them to California and build a wall to keep them from coming back I suppose. I know we Texans would appreciate that.

    Anyway, congratulations on the response to this blog. Should up your Adsense revenue nicely. Who knew New Mexicans could get so worked up? Particularly the peanut farmers around Portales. You should drop a few more of these hand grenades once in a while, although I really love the history posts best. I just did a short one on how liberals jumped all over Paul Simon for the Graceland tour - an early example of cultural appropriation. The closest I ever get to cultural appropriation myself is making burritos and enchiladas for Saturday lunch (oh, and playing the occasional LaBamba/Twist & Shout medley on my Swedish guitar).

    But, of course, the real blog money is in stirring up the far left and far right. Anyhow, good job, Mark. And you didn't even have to use the "F" word or any full frontal nudity. Amazing!

    Tom King

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  34. Is that all you took from the piece? I received well over a hundred emails in the last few days from parents wishing their children could have found jobs in New Mexico, from homesick people who felt they were forced to move to provide for their children, and a few heartbreaking letters from children who can't move because they are taking care of family members while working two low paying jobs.

    And I didn't say all turquoise was ugly, just the crap we sell tourists.

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  35. Mark, as one of those wayward "seed corn" who relocated out of state: you're completely discounting my ever-present desire to come home. New Mexico is the place where I grew up. It's where the people I care most about still live, and I'm still deeply tied to it despite being hundreds of miles away. So I'm on a temporary walkabout. Don't think that I'm not grateful for the investment in my education and future. Please know that I'm working my damnest to be in a financial position to pay it forward some day soon.

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    1. I'm not discounting you, I'm just concerned that maybe the state could do more to help you come back. One of my sons is in Tucson, and he still owns a home here in NM. I'm sure he wishes he was here, too.

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    2. Brandon, it is exactly the point Mark mentioned in his post. As I said, this is the LOCAL mentality here. You want to move back because you have family ties here. What about so many people who do not? NM needs to attract people (with or without family ties here). I see you want to move back because you want to be close to your family. For others who do not have family or did not grow up here, there is NO REASON to move here, seriously!

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  36. I am a young professional who chose to leave NM for schooling (college and grad) and not return. I know nothing about the taxes and have paid a higher cost of living to live elsewhere. The obvious thing that makes the state so unappealing is the crime. It's not a safe place and The people that do get help from the state most often chose to take advantage of it rather than to contribute to society. It's not progressive in its education system nor in its job market so of course young people don't want to move there- how will they advance in their field? I don't think millenials care as much about what the spend to sustain a business and themselves as long as it's worth it.

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  37. Well said! and I definitely think we need some new leadership and "younger" thinking in our state government. Unfortunately, I am one of those people who left, even though NM will always be my home and I miss my family. I would come back in a heart beat if circumstances were different. I am a software engineer and I think there is a huge shortage of good tech jobs in New Mexico. Software, hardware, and computers are the future and I think that needs to be realized. The percentage of technically proficient college graduates is definitely increasing. I think there's a lot of opportunities to attract tech companies, especially because of the open space, lower cost of living, and lower operating costs. I think tax reform and tax incentives are a perfect place to start.

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  38. Grew up in NM, found my husband in AZ where he grew up. We left when we're in mid 30's because not enough tech jobs & the few that there are, the pay is sickening. We r in AZ & my husband's tech job salary jumped up 50% from ending pay in NM at a job he had for 9 yrs. Plus, crime!!!!

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  39. Born and raised in Las Vegas New Mexico and the last big industry was ran out of town by local government. The biggest employers are the local schools,the state hospital,and wal-mart. Other then those three employers there is nothing else. When a new business is looking to move in the local government starts playing politics. Well if the new restaurant moves in then it might take business away from the restaurants that have been hear for years. When a new truck stop wants to move in they play politics. So much the new business just say never mind.when I was growing up the population was about 18,000 now we have maybe 10,000 and that's on a good day and when school is in session..the cost of living keeps going up year after year and you pay keeps going down year after year. That's why I made sure my son pushed him self in school he's now a junior at highlands university and I been preaching to him get your education and move to different state a state that will pay you good money for your education. A place to raise a family so your kids will have a future. So you won't have to live paycheck to paycheck..

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  40. Years ago we traveled to New Mexico looking for art work in Santa Fe. My wife was driving and slowing down on a curve going thru Indian Land and their was a speed trap and she got caught and pulled over for 70mph in a 65 mph. He gave her a ticket and was extremely rude. After getting to Santa Fe we were told that the Indian tribe and most people in that area didn't like people from Calif. because a company from Calif. had closed down. Service in the hotel was horrible and in general we couldn't find anything about New Mexico that we would come back for. We headed to Durango and spent our money their. In researching the closing down of the Calif. owned buss. the decision was because of huge losses due to poor performance of employees and politics. Really sad.

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  41. I have two adult children that graduated from NMSU.
    They both live and work elsewhere. There was nothing for them here. My son works for ESPN as a lead editor and producer. My daughter got her Masters in Neuroscience in Scotland and a second one in a London and lives and works in the U.K. for an International Marketing company. No opportunities like that in New Mexico. My husband and I own a small business and it is virtually impossible to make a profit and when we do we get penalized for it. Businesses need some tax relief. Something needs to change. Our area in NW New Mexico needs to expand the economic base. Our dependency on oil and gas has paralyzed the economy.

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    1. Thank you. There are so many of us in the same boat. And every time you talk tax relief to elected officials, all you hear is "Fair Share!" A lot of the letters I received talked about attracting "green" industry. That would be great, but NM should welcome any employer, not just the cream of the crop.

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  42. New Mexico used to have a booming film industry. The current governor did not continue the contract with Sony so Sony took all the investment away after Richardson stepped down.
    And the current governor was not very supportive of Tesla so Nevada took the opportunity.

    I used to work at UNM. The funding in the university has been continuously cut every year since I moved here. I eventually quit my job at UNM as I realized that the state does not really care about education.

    We had opportunities. Because the government in this state is so short sighted with a so-called LOCAL mentality, New Mexico rejects expansion on its own. Think about how many job opportunities if those large industries land here.
    I have a huge problem with this LOCAL mentality. With this mentality, the best is inheriting for your grandpa's company, hire your cousin, and work with your alumni from UNM (or NMSU, if that matters). How could this local mentality help any kind of growth?

    I moved to NM in 2007 and hoping this sunny state would create a brighter future for me. I think I was too naive. I have learned my lessons here. This year marks my 10 year's entrapment and it is time for me to say "bye". I feel fortunate that I will move out of here this Fall. I have wasted my most precious 10 years here and I am glad I finally made the move when I am still young; if not now, it will be never! Farewell, I will never be back!

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