Monday, July 30, 2007


Water in New Mexico got a couple of passing mentions in the Summer 2007 issue of PERC Reports. Brandon Scarborough's article, "Buy That Fish a Drink," summarized development of voluntary markets of tradable water rights, which were called "an alternative to costly and inefficient regulations that dictate water allocations..." New Mexico is one of the states where the Bureau of Reclamation and state agencies have been buying water rights "to meet water requirements for endangered species and interstate compacts."
Laws in Montana, Oregon and Washington facilitate the free exchange of water rights. In New Mexico and other states, "political, legal and even social barriers have inhibited markets and thwarted efforts to restore flows for fish and wildlife."

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Richardson Coal Report

Gov Bill Richardson scored a short story in the July 28 edition of The Economist, a news and business magazine based in London, England. He can't have been happy with the story. It was headlined: The Politics of Indian Coal. The story begins by saying, incorrectly, that "The cornerstone of Bill Richardson's cacmpaign for the Democratic nomination has been his his efforts to curb greenhouse gas emissions."
"A" cornerstone, maybe. "The" cornerstone, no. That is the Richardson resume.
The story takes Richardson to task for being quiet, until recently, about the proposed 1,500MW coal-fired Desert Rock electrical generating station on Navajo Nation land. Navajos led by Joe Shirley, Navajo president, love the plant. The Navajo power authority will be part owner. The tribe will get jobs and money. Environmentalists and other Navajos oppose the plant for the usual reasons. The new Richardson comment, reported in the story, is that the plant's carbon dioxide emissions would make Richardson's "aggressive greenhouse-gas reduction goals difficult—if not impossible—to meet." The story did not say that Richardson now opposes Desert Rock.
Uranium is different for the Navajo Nation which has banned new uranium on tribal land to the joy of the enviros.

Friday, July 27, 2007

Job Growth Down

The state's newly designated Department of Workforce Solutions reports the the statewide unemployment rate, seasonally adjusted, dropped to a record low of 3.2% in June. The year over year job growth rate continued down from the June 2006 peak of 3.6%. Since June 2006, New Mexico has added 12,700 jobs, a 1.5% increase.
Statewide, construction has lost 200 jobs in the past year.
Wage jobs in Albuquerque just barely grew during the June-to-June year with a 1,000 job increase, up 0.3%. Over the year, jobs grew 2.7% in Santa Fe, 1.4% in Las Cruces and 1.2% in Farmington.
In Albuquerque, construction and finance lost jobs. Albuquerque construction employment, down 400 for the year, has dropped in five of the first six months of 2007.

Thursday, July 26, 2007

Zia Pueblo & Aztec

Zia Pueblo continues to remind us that the Zia sun sysmbol, long since unofficially enshrined at the symbol of New Mexico, started with the pueblo. A billboard on U.S. 550, near Zia's entrance, says, "Zia Pueblo. Home of the Zia Sun Symbol."
Street repair in Aztec offers evidence of other policies. We don't know those policies, but we do know people make choices and stuff happens. Or doesn't happen. In March, driving through Aztec, we found several blocks of Main Street destroyed. One observation was that Aztec's residents who are customers Citizens Bank undergo a serious hassle banking at the Aztec branch. Our July 24 observation is that Main Street is still destroyed. Some of the details are different, but far from different enough to be explained by steady work for four months. The next day, July 25, we found that Aztec's commuters have been given a bonus, a street resurfacingon N.M. 516 in front of West Side Plaza. The guess is that Aztec has taken a page from the construction scheduling approach of Albuquerque Public Schools and a page from Santa Fe's street repair timing manual.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Tourism Promotion

The amount of money state government devotes to tourism promotion probably will always lag our neighbors. Spaceports are more exotic, after all, though tourism touches every corner of the state. Every so often the industry puts together an effort to keep New Mexico, well, a little less behind (my words, not the industry's). New Mexico spent about $2.9 million for tourism promotion during the 2006-07 fiscal year, according to an industry study reported by David Miles in a July 22 article in The New Mexican. Miles reported that "Texas ranked fourth with a $15.2 million budget, Colorado fifth at $14.7 million and Arizona eighth at $11.4 million, the study said."
Tourism doesn't just happen. It is promotion driven. The industry plans a new proposal in the 2008 legislative session for additional promotion money. A pitch for a five percent cut of tribal gaming concession payments didn't fly this year.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Personal Income

New Mexico's heady climb up the income ladder of the past few years hit a snag during the first quarter of this year. Personal income grew 1.4 percent between the fourth quarter of 2006 and the first quarter of 2007. That was good for a tie for 42nd with Washington and Montana and a long way from the performance needed to pull the state from ranking in the forties. New Mexico has also returned to its place as the slowest performing state economy among its neighbors. State personal income increases during the first quarter were Arizona, 2.1%; Colorado, 2.1%; Texas, 1.8%; and Oklahoma, 1.7%.
Nationally, person income grew 2.2% for the three-month period. The numbers, subject to revision, are from the Bureau of Economic Analysis.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Health Care Ranking

The executive summary of the U.S. Index of Health Ownership explains, "The U.S. Index of Health Ownership is the first effort to measure the degree to which individuals, be they patients, health professionals, entrepreneurs, or taxpayers, 'own' the health care in their states. It quantifies how state laws and regulations affect the liberty of citizens involved in state government
health plans (primarily Medicaid), the private health-insurance market, and the provision of medical
services. In addition, the Index assesses the effect of medical tort on people’s freedom to engage
health services."
Overall, New Mexico ranks 22nd once the 24 variables are summed into four categories. The state is in the bottom five for two categories and leads in one.
New Mexico's lowest rank is for state government health care, The report says, "New Mexico, at 48th, seriously underinvests in prescription drugs, is much too dependent on federal matching payments, and has overexpanded Medicaid eligibility."
In state provider burden of regulation, "New Mexico takes this category because of few restrictions on nurse practitioners’
scope of practice and the corporate practice of medicine."
The index is available from the Pacific Research Institute. John R. Graham is the author. See

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Health Care Forum

If greatly over filling the parking lot and meeting hall means the organizers of a meeting are onto something, then the Health Care for All coalition has reason to brag. Last night's health care forum at the Unitarian Church in Albuquerque was standing room only. The vehicles driven to the meeting overwhelmed the church parking lot and spilled into the parking for the two adjacent buildings. Health Care for All had nine organizations on its steering committee. They ranged from the New Mexico Public Health Association to New Mexico Voices for Children and the always impartial League of Women Voters.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Summer of Love

It was 1967. That makes the 40th anniversary this summer. I went to San Francisco that summer to a see a woman who now lives in Santa Fe. My trip ended in Golden Gate Park, but I left to catch my plane before the Jefferson Airplane appeared. The New Mexican today ( has a long summary / retrospective of Northern New Mexico's considerable role in the Hippie movement. The story forgets "Be Here Now," the iconic tract from the Lama Foundation of San Cristobal. The first 330,000 copies, plus, of "Be Here Now" were printed in Albuquerque.
The story reveals something that seems entirely surprising—a fair number of the Hippies turned into Realtors and are still in New Mexico. The appeal comes from freedom and independence of the real estate work.

Richardson & Rio Grande Foundation

Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Grande Foundation, the New Mexico conservative think tank, got his national shot at Gov. Bill Richardson in the July 14-15 weekend edition of the Wall Street Journal. Gessing began by crediting Richardson with cutting taxes, which became true, on an overall basis, only after the 2007 legislative session. The theme of the article is that "there is more to Richardson's fiscal record that tax cuts. He's also a profligate spender..." Gessing's check list starts with the 11 percent increase in general fund spending awarded this year. He moves to covering adults with money from the State Children's Health Insurance Program, and the Railrunner commuter train, which is ecpected to need a $10 million subsidy annually after the state kicks in to replace $75 milliond of capital money that didn't appear. Gessing's analysis ran as part of the Cross Country department of locally originated political columns.

Friday, July 13, 2007

Ruidoso Media

A bit of a media mini-conglomerate has sprung to life in Ruidoso. 1 to 1 Creative Group (( is the promotional umbrella for Write Designs, LTD and Print Write Now! Services range from graphic design, regular printing using Xerox digital presses, Web design and reproduction of artwork. The newest effort is a quarterly lifestyle magazine, Oh So Ruidoso (, that is two-issues old. The first issue had 40 pages. The second had 60. Publisher Laura Reynolds says via email that Oh So Ruidoso is "is by subscription and newsstand sales only. We print
quarterly. Our second issue was just distributed from a 9,000 press run. We mail out complimentary issues to over 6,000 property owners of Lincoln County."

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Interim Committees

The Web site of the New Mexico legislature ( lists 23 committees under the heading, "Interim Committees." This may be accurate in the sense that the groups meet during the interim, the time between legislative sessions. But nuances exist. Within the 23, there are three task forces, two permanent committees with their own staff (Legislative Finance and the Legislative Education Study), 17 that appear to be true interim committees and the Legislative Council, a permanent committee that oversees the Legislative Council Service.
Capitol Report New Mexico will publish the committee work plans in our next issue, set to appear around September 1. Some of the longer plans may be summarized in the magazine with the complete version posted at
Our first look at about half the work plans shows fascinating and important topics being considered.
The Land Grant Comittee will consider implications of granting political subdivision status to community land grants.
The Revenue Stabilization and Tax Policy Committee will "review the work and recommendations of the blue ribbon tax task force" and address "development of a long-range plan for tax policy and tax changes in the state."
Two committees, Economic and Rural Development and Revenue Stabilization, will look at economic development tax incentives.
Possibly the most obscure of the bunch, the Legislative Structure and Process Study Task Force, may have the biggest task—"developing a series of recommendations to help the legislature conduct its work and perform its duties in a more effective and efficient manner."

Tuesday, July 10, 2007


Today, July 10, USA Today has a story summarizing the hopes for a revival of uranium mining. The dateline is Grants. Jobs are coming, the story indicates, though not in big numbers for now. The story is evenly told, quite unlike a December 24,2006, tale the Albuquerque Journal picked up from the Los Angeles Times that had as its focus, according to one subhead, "Uranium's Toxic Legacy."

"Trading at $7 a pound in 2001, "yellowcake," as it is called, hit $120 a pound in May. By the end of June it raked in as much as $138 a pound on the spot market.
"The surging price has lured more than two dozen companies with mining expertise to the high-desert uranium fields here in just the past year or so, says John Indall, a Santa Fe lawyer for the Uranium Producers of America. The companies are reviving old claims, searching filing cabinets for forgotten geological maps and hiring old-timers who know the land.
"Uranium is found widely, but New Mexico is the mother lode. Indall estimates that 600 million pounds of uranium lie under New Mexico's sandy soil. And the energy produced by a pellet of uranium the size of a fingertip is equal to that produced by nearly a ton of coal, Lister says.
"Yet not everyone is hankering for a uranium boom.
"Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley signed a tribal law two years ago banning mining on Navajo lands, which cover much of rural New Mexico. He says the last boom left behind radiation, pollution and disease.
"'I believe the powers that be committed genocide on Navajo land by allowing uranium mining, he said.
"Not all Navajos agree."

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Very Small New Mexico Businesses

New Mexico is a state of very small businesses. In fact, 116,614 New Mexico firms don’t even have employees. Of course, total sales for the group aren’t that great, only $4.5 billion in 2005, according to the Census Bureau. That’s about $38,350 each. The Census Bureau compiles the information from tax returns. The largest number of non-employee businesses are found in the professional, scientific and technical services category, which sounds a lot like “consultant.” Only 89 are found in the utility category. It is a bit difficult to imagine a utility without employees.
About 41% of the businesses are in metro Albuquerque, around Albuquerque’s proportion of the New Mexico population, and earn $1.9 billion, a proportionate share of the $4.5 million.
Harding County had 55 firms without employees in 2005.

Department of Labor

It isn't the Department of Labor any more. It is the Department of Workforce Solutions, a naming winner behind only "Expo New Mexico" in its obfuscation. There is much more to the department than "Workforce Solutions," whatever that means.
I found this via the Web site when looking for the quarterly covered wage employment report. (Name may not be quite right). Then I tried calling the research and statistics section which seems to have disappeared and been reincarnated as Labor Market Information. The telephone, for two R&S numbers, said, "We are currently experiencing technical difficulties." I then called the number listed on the Web site for the delightfully named PIO, Carlos Castaneda. It kicked to voice mail. The Web site number is different from the phone book. Then it was the first number listed in the phone book under Office of the Secretary which turned out to be the director of administrative services. It said the director was on the phone. I punched zero and was cut off. There was no number of the Secretary listed in the phone book.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Abq Homes Prices

Metro Albuquerque and Farmington are among the 11 cities reporting median home price increases of more than 10 percent from the first quarter of 2006 through the first quarter of 2007. The numbers are from the National Association of Realtors.
Albuquerque’s 12.7 percent increase to $193,700 ranked sixth among the eleven while Farmington was tenth with a 12 percent increase to $176,800.
To sure, though, the number of sales in Albuquerque has dropped on a year over year basis. During May, 1,129 homes (both single family detached and townhouses) down 13 per cent from 1,301 in May 2006.
An analysis of the traits common to these 11 communities from starts with “positive fundamentals including strong job and population growth, which then fuel demand for houses.”
The 11 cities never had the true boom in housing prices. Prices never overheated. Of the group, only Seattle has a median home price, $380,200, well above the national median of $212,600.
Small size is another characteristic of the group. Seattle leads by a big margin with 3.3 million people. Farmington is the smallest metro with about 126,473 in 2006.

Monday, July 2, 2007

New Mexico Roads

This is the summary of New Mexico's road conditions from the "16th Annual Report on the Performance
of State Highway Systems (1984–2005)" of the Reason Foundation, a libertarian-oriented think tank. The full report, with state rankings in each category, is in the Policy Reports section at
"In 2005, New Mexico reported 12,205 miles under the state control. The state
ranked 4th in the overall performance ratings in 2005. This represents a sharp
improvement from 2000 when the state ranked 27th. Its best ratings were for rural
interstate condition (1st), capital/bridge disbursements per mile of responsibility
(5th), urban interstate congestion (9th), receipts per mile of responsibility (10th),
deficient bridges (12th), total disbursements per mile of responsibility (13th) and rural primary
pavement condition (16th). Its worst ratings were for fatality rate (43rd) and administrative
disbursements per mile of responsibility (35th). New Mexico’s solid condition ratings are more than
enough to offset its high fatality rate and administrative costs."