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Articles written by Paul Gessing


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  • Opinion: Surplus money belongs in hands of NM taxpayers

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Jun 22, 2024

    Occasionally the evening news reports on people keeping more animals than they can handle. Other times children of deceased parents are astonished by how much “stuff” their parents or grandparents hang onto only to leave piles of unwanted things to be thrown out. The state of New Mexico is a hoarder. It hoards cash. One might think this is a good thing because, after all, isn’t keeping cash for a “rainy day” (such as a downturn in oil and gas) a good thing? Not really. Governm...

  • Opinion: Green energy could be another 'corporate welfare' failure

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated May 11, 2024

    Left, right, or center, economists tend to agree that “corporate welfare” is not good public policy or good economics. A recent Rasmussen poll found that approximately 65% of Americans (regardless of political philosophy or affiliation) oppose corporate welfare. Definitions of what constitutes such “welfare” vary, but generally relate to policies that involve politicians picking winners and losers in the economy. Sadly, New Mexico has a long history of picking “losers...

  • Opinion: Exporting natural gas would help secure energy dominance

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Apr 20, 2024

    What if I told you that one federal government policy could do the following: 1) Undermine Russia’s war against Ukraine (without the U.S. spending a dime); 2) Strengthen economic ties between the U.S. and Asian and European nations; 3) Reduce CO2 emissions; 4) Increase U.S. tax revenues and American jobs (including in New Mexico). The policy I’m referring to is to allow American exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG). Thanks to American technological prowess the U.S. is pro...

  • Opinion: NM oil, gas boom will continue

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Apr 2, 2024

    Recently, Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard, after pushing the Legislature for a 25% tax hike on New Mexico oil and gas producers, made the decision to pull those “highly valuable” tracts of land and not lease them. That decision has raised concerns that her actions may violate her fiduciary responsibility to maximize revenues from the lands under her control. Garcia Richard told the Albuquerque Journal, “It’s worth it to temporarily forgo the dollars (from leasing...

  • Opinion: 'Public health emergencies' need significant attention

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Mar 9, 2024

    Monday is the fourth anniversary of Gov. Lujan Grisham’s first public health emergency dealing with what was then the start of the COVID 19 pandemic. Although restrictions varied widely throughout the next three years, the public health emergency did not end until March 31, 2023. Under New Mexico’s public health emergency laws governors have wide discretion to make policies unchecked by the Legislature or any other elected body. Objectively, it is hard to see any sig...

  • Opinion: Legislature says 'no' to prosperity

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Feb 20, 2024

    As Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, told the floor as debate over this year’s budget wrapped up: “You’re not a poor state. Quit telling other people you’re a poor state.” He’s right. New Mexico is not poor. But what about the people of New Mexico? Among the citizens poverty remains high. According to World Population Review, New Mexico has the third-highest poverty rate in the US. Crime remains troubling and the education system is in dire straits. The state of New Mexico -- me...

  • Opinion: New Mexico's left comes for oil and gas

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Feb 3, 2024

    In recent years the “left” including most, but not all in the Democratic Party have turned sharply against traditional energy sources. Despite New Mexico’s status as a leading energy state, it has not been exempted from this trend. In fact, while New Mexico has seen an unprecedented oil and gas boom (which has unlocked unprecedented government revenues) New Mexico’s political leadership has become virulently anti-energy. This is true for all five members of its congres...

  • Opinion: First priority: Do no harm

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Jan 6, 2024

    With yet another massive budget surplus awaiting the New Mexico Legislature as it convenes later this month, this column should rightly be replete with ideas for how the governor and Legislature can use that surplus to diversify the state’s economy and bring New Mexico out of poverty. Alas, if we learned nothing from last year’s 2023 session, it is that even at a time of surplus, the Legislature can still harm our economy. As the Legislature convened last year with a $3.6 bil...

  • Opinion: Another EV mandate looms

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Dec 16, 2023

    Fresh off her “victory” in pushing a vast increase in the number of electric vehicles sold in New Mexico through a board appointed by her, New Mexico Gov. Lujan Grisham is pushing yet another regulation to force EVs on an unwilling public. The governor’s latest plan is to mandate EV charging stations and equipment for newly built apartment buildings and other commercial real estate. The “good” news is that while news reports back in September reported that up to 20% of all pa...

  • Opinion: Clean vehicle mandate won't work in NM

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Dec 2, 2023

    After four long days of testimony and public comment the Environmental Improvement Board decided recently to move forward with Gov. Lujan Grisham’s plan to follow California’s “clean vehicle” standard. In practice that means New Mexico’s car dealers will have to increase sales of electric vehicles in New Mexico from the current 3% of all new vehicles to 43% by summer of 2026 and 82% by summer of 2031. New Mexico’s car dealers are the ones with the most to lose under this...

  • Opinion: Reform education to boost workforce and economy

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Nov 18, 2023

    The Legislative Finance Committee has produced a new report looking at the issue of New Mexico’s low workforce participation rate. Here is one of many choice quotes analyzing the problem: “While unemployment rates have recovered to pre-pandemic levels, the share of the state’s working age population participating in the labor force is persistently low. Social services, economic development, tax rates, pension systems, the service industry, and virtually every other area of th...

  • Opinion: EVs should not be forced on us

    Paul Gessing, Syndicated content|Updated Oct 21, 2023

    An unelected board called the Environmental Improvement Board is accepting public comments to determine whether New Mexicans have the freedom to move around this big, beautiful state (or not). We have created a website to help average New Mexicans defend that right. Go to: KeepYourCarsNM.com The governor is pushing regulations that would force New Mexicans to buy vastly more electric vehicles than they currently do. If adopted, 82% of the vehicles sold in our state will have...

  • Opinion: UBI won't actually help the poor

    Paul Gessing|Updated Sep 27, 2023

    The idea of a “universal basic income” has been around a long time. Most supporters are broadly on the left of the political spectrum, but many conservative thought leaders, including Charles Murray as well as Reagan officials like James Baker and George Schultz, have also been willing to consider the idea. The idea behind UBI is simple: replace welfare payments to the poor with cash payments to empower the poor to manage their government benefits. Welfare programs have a bun...

  • Opinion: Gov's disdain for democracy not new

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Sep 16, 2023

    New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham recently gained national headlines for her public health order, which essentially banned carrying a gun in Bernalillo County, the state’s largest county by population. Her justification for this dramatic action was a recent shooting outside Isotopes Park, but residents of Bernalillo County and Albuquerque face and have faced these issues for years. Each time a criminal uses a gun to kill or steal it is frustrating and a sad event. Both t...

  • Opinion: Time for all-above approach to education

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Aug 29, 2023

    New Mexico should be in crisis mode. Our K-12 education system is certainly facing a crisis. Problems abound: recent reports highlight serious school attendance issues, the NAEP (known as the “Nation’s Report Card”) test places New Mexico 52nd across ALL age groups and subjects studied, the Kids Count report shows New Mexico kids are losing ground, and no one seems to have a solution. Education spending has increased markedly in recent years with nothing to show for it. With...

  • Opinion: State could learn valuable lessons from Texas policies

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Jul 29, 2023

    A recent cartoon by John Trever highlights the vastly different approaches toward governance of New Mexico and Texas. The cartoon is of the state border circa 2030 as New Mexicans head to Texas for gas-powered vehicles while Texans visit NM for abortions and marijuana. These are hardly the only differences between the two nowadays as Texas has no income tax or job-killing gross receipts tax. It is a right to work state, and state spending per-person is less than half of what i...

  • Opinion: State needs different economic direction

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Jul 3, 2023

    Once again New Mexico is at the bottom of a list. “Kids Count 2023” is compiled by the Annie E. Casey Foundation with distribution and media handled by New Mexico Voices for Children. While it is not the report Rio Grande Foundation would compile, the 16 variables considered in do highlight issues regarding the well-being of New Mexico children. Sadly, like so many similar reports, the results are not good for our state. What is unique is the positive spin being applied by...

  • Opinion: Don't get too excited about rebates

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Jun 17, 2023

    According to New Mexico’s Tax and Revenue Department, rebate checks (or transfers to bank accounts) will be going out at any time during the middle of June. At the Rio Grande Foundation we welcome the $500 or $1,000 (depending on single/married filing status). This is especially true at a time when inflation is rising faster than wages. But New Mexico is in the midst of an unprecedented boom in its oil and gas industry and, while those checks are nice, they are a pittance r...

  • Opinion: 529 plan expansion good news for NM

    Paul Gessing|Updated May 23, 2023

    The 2023 New Mexico legislative session was generally disappointing for New Mexicans who wish to see much-needed K-12 education reform. However, it was not a total loss. In fact, one bill did pass that could help thousands of New Mexico families pay for educational options that work best for them. Without a single “no” vote during the 2023 session, HB 342 will soon be the “law of the land.” The bipartisan bill was sponsored in the House by Republican Minority Leader Ryan Lane...

  • Opinion: State approach to economic development misguided

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Apr 29, 2023

    In her message in which she explained her veto of large portions of the Legislature-passed tax bill, Gov. Lujan Grisham wrote, “Although HB 547 has many laudable tax reform measures, I have grave concerns about the sustainability of this tax package as a whole.” She wrote this while the state of New Mexico sits on a $3.6 billion budget surplus thanks to oil and gas revenues (a boom that shows no signs of slowing down). She also signed a 14% budget increase, which grew the siz...

  • Opinion: Online program not welfare; it's empowering

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Apr 22, 2023

    The state of New Mexico is unique in both its demographics and geographical features. Our vast land area, diverse topography, and sparse population have proven to be a significant barrier when it comes to broadband deployment and internet connectivity. This affects New Mexicans from the eastern prairie to the Rio Grande Valley. This challenge is particularly evident across low-income communities and on tribal lands. Billions of federal and state tax dollars have been spent on...

  • We deserve more control over personal info

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Apr 8, 2023

    There was a small, but significant victory for free speech during the recent legislative session. A measure that would have made already-hostile privacy laws for nonprofit causes even worse was miraculously killed on the House floor. Senate Bill 42 had already been adopted by the Senate, so this was truly a last-ditch effort. Current laws relating to forcing nonprofits to disclose their donors are already being challenged by the Rio Grande Foundation in court. That original...

  • Opinion: Legislature offered a nonsensical approach to taxes

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Apr 1, 2023

    With $3.6 billion at its disposal the New Mexico Legislature had the chance of the century (and possibly the last century) to enact sweeping reforms of the state’s tax structure. The idea, seemingly as professed publicly by those from across the political spectrum, is to diversify the state economy to be less reliant on the vagaries of oil and gas prices. Unfortunately, even with a positively mind-blowing 42% single-year budget surplus on top of robust spending growth in r...

  • Opinion: Interest rate cap study warning to NM

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Mar 14, 2023

    Elected officials who use the power of government to “help” people often fail to account for the possible unintended consequences of their actions. Even the noblest of intentions can unintentionally hurt those it’s meant to aid. Such is the case with New Mexico’s new law imposing a price control on the interest rate that lenders are allowed to charge on a short-term loan. Proponents claim it will make a “real difference” for people, but the only difference it’ll make is in th...

  • Opinion: Governor must embrace bold reforms

    Paul Gessing, Guest columnist|Updated Feb 25, 2023

    In October of last year, results for the Nation’s Report Card placed New Mexico dead last in education among all states, the District of Columbia, and Department of Defense schools. The test covered reading for fourth and eighth graders and math for the same age groups. New Mexico was last across all categories. These results should have been a wakeup call for Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Legislature. Bold solutions are needed and there’s no time like a 60-day session to enact b...

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