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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Richard Ellenberg: Governor Martinez Unfairly Targets Dem-Supported Industry

This is a guest blog by Richard D. Ellenberg, who serves as Chair of the Democratic Party of Santa Fe County.

Jobs are priority one, but Gov. Susana Martínez has blocked practical jobs initiatives not fitting her national conservative image.

Film credits create jobs. The governor's most visible effort was limiting these credits. The result so far: Loss of two movies budgeted at a total of $70 million. Loss of the post-production facility with 175 construction jobs and 120 permanent skilled jobs. 

Studies conclude that a state maximizes its benefits from films when it has a trained local labor market. Our colleges have invested in film curricula and have created that job force, just in time to lose business.

The governor is attempting to break contracts with films signed prior to the film-credit reductions. She is sending the clearest message to film jobs that they are not welcome.

Film credits are the only credit the governor allows to be questioned. No asking if oil and gas credits are a good investment. Oil companies are spending fortunes to find and extract oil in difficult places and not replacing supplies as fast as they use them. It would be fair to ask if their tax credits increase the number of jobs significantly. Yet the governor vetoed the bill to examine the benefit of all credits, not just film credits. Why? Politics. The film industry tends to support Democrats. The oil and gas industry tends to support Republicans.

Democratic job-creation bills were dead on arrival since she would not sign them. She would not support: green job initiatives; depositing state funds in local rather than national banks to increase local lending; and a development bank based upon the successful models in other states. Nor did she have her own job-creation initiatives.

One bill, passed unanimously, allowed universities to issue bonds for renewable energy improvements, creating jobs and saving money. She pocket-vetoed this initiative, with her staff saying she did not support renewable energy.

She vetoed the Health Exchange Act to protect her Republican image. New Mexico would have received $1 million to work on planning for this exchange with more to follow without that veto. Now New Mexico loses those dollars and the odds that the federal government will have to step in and set up New Mexico's exchange are substantially increased.

She vetoed an unemployment-tax increase supported almost unanimously to protect businesses from much higher assessments that will hurt jobs. This helps her record of not supporting tax increases, but harms our business community.

Most damaging to the state's long-term growth was breaking her promise not to cut education. A weak education system is the primary reason we do not attract high-paying businesses. Yet school districts are facing a 4 percent to 5 percent cut in their budgets. The Legislature could have avoided this by closing loopholes used by multi-national companies gaining an unfair advantage over local businesses. But the governor would not support this or other revenue-raising proposals. Why? To protect her record opposing any tax increase, loophole closing or tax-credit reduction, except of course for cutting tax credits for those Democratic film jobs./p>

This is a guest blog by Richard D. Ellenberg. It originally appeared as an op-ed in the Santa Fe New Mexican.

If you'd like to submit a piece for consideration as a guest blog, contact me by clicking on the Email Me link at the upper left-hand corner of the page. Publication of a guest blog does not necessarily mean that we agree or disagree with the points made.

May 10, 2011 at 11:48 AM in Democratic Party, Film, Guest Blogger, Jobs, Susana Martinez, Taxes | Permalink

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