Monday, February 7, 2011

Union Pacific and Incentives

A month ago today Gov. Susana Martinez, in one of her first public acts as governor, went to Santa Teresa to pitch a gross receipts tax and compensating tax exemption for locomotive fuel. Unlike, the the movie subsidy and the RailRunner subsidy and a bunch of others, this is a really good idea. It would level the field with Texas.
The tax exemption is tied to a railyard planned by Union Pacific at Santa Teresa. Long story short, Union Pacific needs to extricate itself from El Paso. If you have ever driven on I-10 west of downtown El Paso, you pass the existing railyard. There is no space. Twenty or so years ago, Kevin Boberg, now assistant dean at the New Mexico State University School of Business, had a bright idea. Let's build a multi-modal transportation facility at Santa Teresa, he said.
Dr. Boberg was ahead of his time and well ahead of the then King administration's inclination to make a decision. Then there was little at Santa Teresa.
Now is the time. All sorts of things happen now at Santa Teresa. Perhaps more important, UP may well have money now. The railroad had a record fourth quarter in 2010 and a record year, netting $2.8 billion. UP expects to hire 4,000 this year, mostly replacing people lost through attrition.
The UP jobs will be real, regular jobs, not project work that comes and goes like the movies.
If I get a bill number on this proposal, I will pass it along.

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