2016 New Mexico Landscape Survey

The Center for Civic Policy (CCP) commissioned a statewide poll in early December of 2015 for the purpose of getting a reading of public opinion regarding some key public policy issues as New Mexico prepares for another legislative session.

Here are some key takeaways:

Issues Environment

Voters were asked, “Of all the issues facing New Mexico, what is the single most important one to you that the state government in Santa Fe can do something about? And what is the next most important issue?” Voters overwhelmingly care most about two issues – schools and education (34% top two issue) and the economy and jobs (28% top two issue). Concerns about crime/drugs/DUI (12% top two issue) lag far behind.

Economic Justice

We tested two statements describing the relationship between the economic challenges facing working families and the power dynamics in New Mexico. These were adapted from the “Everyone Economics” polling conducted by Americans United for Change and other national groups. Voters were asked whether they agree or disagree with the following:

Statement #1

“In New Mexico today, too many politicians have handed power over to corporate lobbyists and changed the rules, giving out big tax breaks and favors to the wealthy and to out-of-state corporations while wages have stayed low, middle class incomes have flat-lined, jobs have disappeared and working families and small businesses struggle just to stay afloat.”

 Among active voters an overwhelming 75% agreed with this critique of New Mexico today with 16% disagreeing for a net agreement of +59%. Those who strongly agreed (59%) surpassed those who strongly disagreed (7%). There was hardly any daylight between agreement among Hispanics (76%) and Anglos (75%).

Statement #2

“The same-old trickle-down policies simply aren’t working. Out-of-state corporate CEOs and the well-connected keep getting tax breaks, while ordinary New Mexicans struggle living paycheck to paycheck. We need to reform state government so that it works for working families, not just wealthy special interests.”

Agreement with the second statement was even stronger. Among active voters, 77% agreed with 16% disagreeing for a net agreement of +65%. Those who strongly agreed (63%) surpassed those who strongly disagreed (8%). Hispanic agreement was even higher (88%) compared to Anglos (72%).

Voters in every age, education, ethnicity, income, and political and ideological group share the overall critique about the economy and government. Hispanic women are literally universal in their agreement that the economy isn’t working for average people and needs fundamental reform.

Automatic Voter Registration

A majority of voters (58%) support automatically registering voters when they turn 18 or move to New Mexico, and allowing them to remain registered when they move anywhere in the state. Just a third (35%) oppose it.

Religious Refusal Laws

A majority (51%) of voters oppose new religious refusal laws that would expand the ways in which people could be exempt from laws and regulations that conflict with their religious beliefs. Only 28% support this while a fifth (20%) cannot offer an opinion.

Planned Parenthood

Despite the efforts of anti-choice zealots to smear and destroy Planned Parenthood, those already favorable towards the organization have become more so. 45% New Mexico voters had a favorable opinion of Planned Parenthood. Now, while the overall opinion has stayed the same (46%), intense favorability – those giving it a rating of ‘9’ or ‘10’ – have increased by 11 points. Those choosing lower favorable scores, between ‘6’ and ‘8’, have fallen by a similar share of 11 points. Unfavorable opinion of the group has also increased (from 30% in January to 36% in December) overall but not in intensity. Those without an opinion, either a neutral rating of ‘5’ or unawareness of the organization, fell from 25% to 19%.

While the state of New Mexico doesn’t directly provide funding to Planned Parenthood, voters oppose efforts to permanently block it. Overall, 57% oppose the state blocking funding while just around a third (35%) support it. Only 8% fail to offer an opinion. Hispanics oppose this ban at the same rate as Anglos. A significant gender gap emerges among Anglos based on education. Anglo men who didn’t graduate college split on this while non-college graduate women oppose it by almost a two-to-one margin. Among Anglos who did graduate from college, men and women oppose it similarly.

“Right to Work”

When asked to say which issues they find more important for the New Mexico government to deal with, just two people volunteer anything about passing a “right to work” law while 30% of all voters say they want the state to address the economy, jobs, and raising wages. After this open-ended question, we gave voters a choice five issue to pick as the top priority for the Governor and state legislature to address next year:

  • Growing New Mexico jobs
  • Funding for public schools
  • Public safety, crime and prison reform
  • Restoring trust to state elections, and
  • Right to work legislation

Just 5% selected “right to work.” Jobs (33%) and public schools (32%) were the overwhelming choices, followed by public safety (18%). A similar share (6%) pick restoring trust to state elections.

Food Tax

While New Mexicans are divided on many issues, they come together in opposition to imposing a sales tax on food. Four-fifths (80%) oppose it and just 15% support it. When couched as part of a broader effort to lower the sales tax on all goods, opposition stays strong (62%) while support comes in at just 29%. Voters in all income groups oppose it similarly.

Best Approach to Address Crime: Tougher Penalties vs. Treatment Programs

When it comes to reducing crime, more voters in New Mexico believe in to focusing more resources on programs like early-education, drug abuse treatment, mental health services, and family crisis intervention (49%) than mandating life sentences for anyone who commits three violent crimes (35%). Partisanship, age, and educational attainment split voters on this question. Hispanics and Anglos, men and women, prefer treatment over tougher penalties.

The 2016 Landscape Poll was conducted by Third Eye Strategies. This was a survey of 602 active voters in the state of New Mexico. Respondents were interviewed between 6:00 and 9:00 pm on December 4th through 7th, 2015. 51.5% (310) of interviews were conducted on cell phones. The data were adjusted slightly by gender, age, and ethnicity by region to best represent the distribution of active likely voters and those recently registered.

All polls are subject to errors caused by interviewing a sample of persons, rather than the entire population. In 95 cases out of 100, the responses to this survey should be within plus or minus 4.28 percentage points of those that would have been obtained from interviewing the entire population of likely voters.

 

 

 

 

Martinez loses another Supreme Court case

By Matthew Reichbach
On Wednesday, Governor Susana Martinez lost another case before the New Mexico Supreme Court. This one involved the state’s high court telling the Governor that vetoing a single digit from an appropriation, in this case slashing a $150,000 to $50,000, overstepped her authority as laid forth by the state Constitution.

The illegal veto would have slashed money appropriated to the New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority. Two state Senators and two members of the state House of Representatives filed suit to invalidate the veto.

“Today’s ruling is a victory for our constitution and the people of New Mexico,” Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, and Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Silver City, said in a joint statement following the Supreme Court’s decision. “The principle of separation of powers is the cornerstone of our government. The balance of power is equally divided among the three branches of government and the court’s decision reaffirmed this by preserving the legislature’s exclusive appropriating authority.”

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously against Martinez’s veto.

Reps. Luciano “Lucky” Varela of Santa Fe and Henry “Kiki” Saavdera of Albuquerque were also party to the lawsuit and the four legislators split the cost of bringing the lawsuit.

“The Court has now given guidance that the only way for the governor to prevent these types of excessive spending measures is to veto the entire amount,” Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said according to Reuters. “The governor is hopeful that the Legislature will work with her to prevent such vetoes from becoming necessary in the future.”

This isn’t the first setback in the Supreme Court by the Republican governor.

Martinez has not had much luck with the state’s high court, losing three rulings including one on slashing regulations and another on her decisions involving the state labor board. The state ruled unanimously that Martinez exceeded her authority in removing two members of the Public Employee Labor Relations Board.

Martinez defended her vetoes by noting that governors had previously used similar line-item vetoes. These were 70 years ago and were not challenged at the time.

The Supreme Court did not make a decision on another lawsuit that Martinez is facing over one of her vetoes. The lawsuit contends that Martinez’s line-item veto of the portions of an unemployment insurance bill that raise revenue is illegal. The six lawmakers filing suit against Martinez argue that the bill does not appropriate money and therefore cannot be line-item vetoed.

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce and the Association of Commerce and Industry both backed the bill that would stave off insolvency in the state’s unemployment fund. Already most states in the country have seen their unemployment funds go broke.

The Water Authority’s Debt Question

By Walker Boyd

Ticky-Tacky by sarahgoldsmith on Flickr

In early 2009, the authoritative ratings agency Moody’s assigned an ‘Aa2’ rating to the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority (ABCWUA). This is good news for the Authority: the high rating ensures low interest rates on any bonds they might issue.

And they have been issued: If the ABCWUA is a house, then it is mortgaged to the hilt: the Authority has about $2000 in debt for each one of its customers.

It is strange to read about the Water Authority from the perspective of national or international bond investors. Instead of water availability, Colorado River flows above El Vado, or average customer use, Moody’s analysts were more concerned about “customer growth” and the effect that slowing construction of new residences might have on the Authority’s short-term growth.

This dovetails with another favorite past-time of financial analysts, real estate speculation. Because tax increases are so unpalatable to Americans, city governments are often hamstrung by their own success. Low taxes attract businesses (for example Intel), but higher taxes to pay for deferred costs like water use and street improvements are politically unpalatable. Speculators can thus count on friendly city managers, willing to do anything to attract business to their own city in order to attract “jobs”. But how does a city with a complete inability to raise taxes or utility rates continue to provide essential services?

Until recently, the solution has been Gross receipts: So long as Albuquerque continues to grow at a healthy pace, property sales and construction give the state a steady flow of income.

Any city manager is thus faced with a unique problem: how do you keep up with increased demands for government services (like better water treatment) without raising taxes? Until now, the solution has been to grow, and when growth has been anemic, issue bonds. Hence the concern with growth that the Moody’s analysts linked above express. Anything less than 2% growth means that Albuquerque becomes a debt basket case in record time.

There is nothing inherently wrong with bonds; the ability to efficiently distribute wealth has been a hallmark of Western society’s growth since the 16th century. Conservative historians argue that the Italian invention of double-entry book keeping and other European innovations in finance and accounting are responsible for the Western world’s higher quality of life. When growth is desirable, bonds can help a city or a country build necessary infrastructure, which they pay for later with a larger, more productive population.

But in a city like Albuquerque which has already seen its fair share of development, bond issues can take on a pernicious role, encouraging growth for its own sake rather than Albuquerque’s general well-being.

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Assume a Rat: When Individualism Smells like Corporate Welfare

This is a great chart. Important too. Why?

There’s an increasingly persistent meme being used to justify another round of massive tax cuts for the super-rich — like those contained in the Ryan Budget plan recently passed by the House.  The meme is this:  The wealthy are the true “producers.” They’re “job creators” who will take any additional tax windfall and, presto… new manufacturing plants will spring up over night.

There’s also a “moral” component embedded in this meme. The reframe goes like this. For us to expect billionaires and large corporations to pay their fair share of taxes is really about “unjustly punishing” them for their “success.” It’s tantamount to theft.

What we have here is a perfect reflection of the moral universe conceived by Ayn Rand. And now an attempt is being made to enshrine her philosophy of radical individualism as official policy via the plan of Congressman Paul Ryan — a committed Randian.

This is Calvinism on steroids — but absent God (Rand was a militant atheist). Material success and wealth is a sign that you are one of the Elect, and thus favored by God Ayn. The poor, the weak, the sick? God Life is punishing them for their moral defects.

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Is your head ready to explode yet, Susana?

It’s another day in the movie entitled, “Cursed to Live in Interesting Times.”

For the Memo to Governor Martinez entitled, “New Mexico’s Race to the Bottom”, there’s this tidbit:

Five Reasons Why States Can’t Create Jobs by Cutting Business Taxes from the Center for Budget and Policy Priorities.

In the “Baby, It Hurts So Good Department”, tough economic times couldn’t be working out better for Big Oil. Despite all those regulatory fetters, today Exxon Mobil reported a first quarter profit jump of 69%.

In view of the pain that motorists are feeling at the gas pump, along with the alleged focus of some in Congress to attacking the deficit, one would think Speaker John Boehner and GOP budget master Paul Ryan would be on the same page. But apparently, someone didn’t get the memo:

While Boehner rejects request to end subsidies for oil firms (The Hill)

Rep. Paul Ryan says it’s time to do just that. (Politico)

And what about “Drill Baby Drill” as a way out of the crisis?  Former Bush-McCain economic advisor admitted it wouldn’t make a dime’s worth of difference.

Meanwhile, don’t cry for Massachusetts! Despite being burdened with a state-imposed universal health insurance mandate (RomneyCare), the Bay State experienced an economic growth surge ahead of the overall United States in the first quarter of 2011. Oh, and as an added bonus (or rather “fetter”), the state’s uninsured rate is below 5%.

Back here in New Mexico, we’re bracing for the cut-off of federal stimulus funds that, according to UNM economists, paid for as many as 23,000 jobs through June of last year.

Tick, tick, tick.

 

Work Till You Die! – April 28

by Terry Schleder, NM Alliance for Retired Americans

Ever wonder why the Tea Party cries crocodile tears over the national debt while campaigning against the actual saving of money?  Perhaps it’s because the distraction has worked.

Progressive social programs that made the American Middle Class happen – Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid – are officially up for grabs, having been scapegoated since the 80’s (openly), and maybe earlier. (Disclaimer: I get nauseous when I research it any further back than my entire voting life.)

Tax Day came and went this year, but its theatrical backdrop of a budget “discussion” in DC rings hollow across the US in state capitols where middle class public employees are finally refusing to play the scapegoat. This pushback against the uber-rich puppeteers of the past four decades rocks, but is it enough to save our community programs?

In this particular time of crises, when States are feeling the abandonment of federal responsibility like a downhill-rolling M1 Abrams tank, is it also possible for Progressives to envision and protect a caring, strong government that enables us to keep our promises to a healthy middle class?

Some folks think so, so they’re hoping we all show up for the National Day of Action to save our community programs.

Work Till You Die!” actions in NM and across the US will happen on Thursday, April 28.  We’ll tell our lawmakers that we’re fighting back for strong community programs that strengthen the middle class.  Join the NM Alliance for Retired Americans , Ole NM and others as we thank our Congressional champions of middle class security and hold others accountable for abandoning us.

Thurs., April 28 – ABQ & Las Cruces – “Work Till You Die!” events

12 Noon – In Downtown ABQ in front of the SSA office on 5th & Lead

12 Noon – In Las Cruces Rally in front of Rep. Steve Pearce’s office.

Fortunately, it looks like some folks are, indeed, coming out of the fog of distraction to question the radical policies that do little more than preserve CEO vacations in the Cayman Islands.

In fact, there’s even reason to believe people in New Mexico are smelling a rat. This year’s Tea Party Tax Day protest was half the size of their same shindig last year.

And instead of encountering 30 rag-tag Raging Grannies and Retiree activists from our beleaguered public worker unions, the ABQ Tea Party this year faced hundreds who came out to protest corporate welfare.

Hell, even some young conservatives are starting to question the within their own hypocrisy.

Now if we can just get them to realize that – despite WI Rep. Paul Ryan’s awesome muscles – his budget plan will tank their Social Security & Medicare, maybe we’ll make some progress.

Terry is NM Field Staff for the NM Alliance for Retired Americans. He’s worked in public health policy, research and advocacy for too long in NM and a couple big cities. He holds an MPH degree from UNM but thinks his working class background taught him stuff, too.

Sin of Emission on Earth Day – Good Friday Edition

In celebration of Earth Day 2011, here’s a story courtesy of the Natural Resources Defense Council:

For Earth Day, Steve Hayward of the American Enterprise Institute posted this shocker:  “Energy Fact of the Week: Sulfur Dioxide Emissions from Coal Have Declined 54 Percent.”  He includes some nice government charts…

But from Hayward’s blog, you’d think this happened by itself!

The chief causes of this decline are technology—cost-effective “scrubbers” to remove sulfur dioxide from the waste stream—and resource substitution: we started using much more low-sulfur coal from the western United States.

No mention of the Clean Air Act’s acid rain program – the limits on sulfur dioxide emissions established in the 1990 Clean Air Act.  Without the Clean Air Act’s pollution limits, this scrubber technology and switch to lower-sulfur coal would never have happened.  Why install pollution controls or use cleaner fuels if you can dump all your pollution in the atmosphere for free?

Sounds like the corporate hacks at AEI are more adept at scrubbing history than scrubbing emissions. Wouldn’t want to let actual facts get in the way of the prime narrative denying government’s necessary role in protecting public health and enforcing the rules of the road for free market capitalism in all its majesty.

It’s about “promoting the general welfare” for those of us with a constitutional bent.

All of which reminds us of a light bulb joke, free market fundamentalist edition.

Question:  “How many free market economists does it take to change a light bulb?”

Answer:  “None. They wait for the invisible hand to do it.”

And in related news, check out today’s excellent post on DFNM:

Four Corners Power Plan Leads Nation in Smog-forming Pollution

Happy Earth Day, y’all.

Gov. Can Still Sign Tax Expenditure Bill For Maximum Transparency and Taxpayer Accountability

By Tracy Dingmann

There’s still time for Gov. Susana Martinez to sign SB47, a transparency bill that ensures taxpayer dollars are working for New Mexicans.

Under SB47, which passed both houses of the New Mexico Legislature unanimously, New Mexico would enact a tax expenditure budget to track and evaluate the merits of all revenue losses from tax deductions, exemptions and credits.

The tax expenditure budget would allow legislators and other policy makers to make informed decisions about which tax breaks are truly benefitting the state through jobs created and other returns, said the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque. Currently, the state hands out about $1 billion in tax incentives and there is confusion about which ones are really providing economic return to the state, he said.

“Legislators from both sides of the aisle agree that transparency and accountability are essential elements of good public administration,” Keller said Thursday. “This is the reason SB 47 – a bill that would create a tool to track and evaluate the merits of all revenue losses from tax deductions, exemptions and credits – passed unanimously by the House and the Senate.”

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The Very Latest on the ACLU’s Request for Documents in the Driver’s License Debate

By Tracy Dingmann

On March 16, the American Civil Liberties Union of New Mexico filed a public information request with the offices of Gov. Susana Martinez and Secretary of State Dianna Duran, asking for all records and correspondence related to Duran’s announcement on March 15 that her office had uncovered possible instances of voter fraud by foreign nationals.

The ACLU-NM said it made the Inspection of Public Records Act request in an attempt to ensure the transparency and objectivity of Duran’s investigation, which ostensibly involved Duran comparing a “database” of foreign nationals with driver’s licenses at the state Motor Vehicle Department with voter information housed with the Secretary of State.

The ACLU requested all records, documents and communication circulated between the Governor’s office and Duran’s office regarding alleged voter fraud or voting “irregularities” by foreign nationals –in essence – asking Duran and Martinez to provide proof of their alarming allegations that voter fraud in New Mexico is rampant.

Some Documents In; Some Not

On Wednesday (April 6,), ACLU-NM executive director Peter Simonson told Clearly New Mexico that he has received a packet of documents from the Secretary of State, but nothing yet from the Governor’s office.

The documents from Duran’s office are so redacted that they are essentially worthless, Simonson said.

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Rescind, Revise, Repeal: Read This if You Care About Clean Water, Air and Land in New Mexico

 

By Tracy Dingmann

Back in February, we did an Inspection of Public Records Request of Gov. Susana Martinez’s office that revealed documents showing that her “Small Business-Friendly Task Force” is packed with big-industry lobbyists who carry a distinctly anti-regulatory agenda.

 

Included in the documents was a “mid-point report” from the task force that contained a number of startling recommendations for the Governor regarding drastic rollbacks of environmental and construction rules.

The task force is due to issue a full report of recommendations to the Governor on April 1.

But just recently, our request yielded even more documents from another state agency that went into even greater detail about what the group wants the Governor to do about some very specific and crucial regulations.

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