Tuesday, January 05, 2010
Gov. Bill Richardson Releases Proposals to Balance New Mexico Budget
Basics: NO increases of personal income taxes or capital gains taxes. NO decreases in business tax incentives or credits. Equivalent of 3% cuts across state government. New revenue measures must be temporary.
Governor Bill Richardson today released his (pdf), saying that it relies on "a responsible combination of spending cuts and new revenue to balance the budget, maintain critical services and establish cash reserves at 5 percent."
“As New Mexico continues to recover from the global recession, our top priorities must be to provide critical services to our citizens, preserve and create jobs, and manage state government in a fiscally responsible way,” Richardson said in today's release. “Our budget requires additional sacrifice from everyone, but it achieves our goals in a fair and balanced manner.”
Governor Richardson’s Executive Budget includes a solvency plan that cuts state spending by $510 million, accomplished partly by making permanent the $218 million in spending cuts made during the recent special session and through the Governor’s Executive Order.
As part of his budget plan, Governor Richardson has proposed:
- Making the equivalent of 3 percent spending cuts across state government, with all options on the table to achieve those cuts, saving $158 million
- Eliminating stalled capital outlay projects, saving $150 million
- Eliminating the practice of double dipping, saving $4 million
- Adopting recommendations from the Committee on Government Efficiency to save $25 million
- Eliminating exempt positions, saving $8 million
The release pointed out that Governor Richardson has cut taxes by $1 billion during the past seven years, and is also prepared to negotiate with the Legislature to generate $200 million in temporary new revenue as a critical piece to balancing the budget.
“My budget recommendation includes new revenue as a temporary measure to shore up the budget during this historic global recession,” Governor Richardson said. “But I will only support a package that automatically expires after the economy recovers and we no longer need this temporary infusion of revenue.”
Governor Richardson will also oppose any tax increase that hurts the Governor’s efforts to make the state more economically competitive and to create new jobs. He will specifically oppose efforts to:
- Increase personal income taxes
- Increase capital gains taxes and
- Decrease business tax incentives or credits
“We’ve used these tax cuts and incentives to successfully create thousands of jobs in the state, and I will not give up these tools when we need them most,” Richardson said.
The Executive Budget can be viewed on the Department of Finance & Administration’s website.
The LFC's Recommendation
Yesterday, the Legislative Finance Committee released its budget recommentation, which includes a proposed 2% salary cut for state employees and teachers and jettisoning more than 900 state jobs. It doesn't offer any recommended tax increases, "revenue enhancements" or cuts to make up an additional $200 million shortfall, leaving that to the legislators to deal with in the regular session that begins on January 19, 2010 at Noon at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe. Barry Massey of the AP provides a useful summary of the LFC proposals.
This Week: Book Signing Events with Craig Barnes in Santa Fe & Albuquerque
Santa Fe resident, author, playwright and mediator, Craig Barnes, who also hosts the radio program , will be presenting "Democracy at the Crossroads: A Talk and Book Signing" in Santa Fe and Albuquerque.
Friday, January 8, 6:00 PM
Please call 877-988-4226 to reserve your copy
4022 Rio Grande Boulevard NW
Sunday, January 10, 3:00 PM
Come hear a storyteller’s history of the rule of law, the modern temptation to give it all up under Bush and Obama, and an exploration of the way forward. This fascinating treatise examines how Western ideals of democracy have evolved and emerged through the ages and across continents. Craig S. Barnes shares the inspiring stories of a diverse group of men and women (whether they be leaders, poets, or peasants) who pioneered due process, habeas corpus, and the balance of powers.
Exploring the premise that "democracy is not a given in social evolution," Barnes contrasts the heroic figures of history to those in recent administrations who he argues have ignored the precious nature of our inheritance and have placed democracy at risk. Democracy at the Crossroads: Princes, Peasants, Poets, and Presidents in the Struggle for (and against) the Rule of Law is a stirring reminder of the fragility of our rule of law and the need for vigilant protection of our hard-won liberties.
Craig S. Barnes begain his career as a public interest lawyer dealing with women's rights and the environment. He was also active in politics and civil rights, running for Congress in Denver as a peace candidate in 1970. You can learn more about Barnes and his latest book, Democracy at the Crossroads, here.
Economic Wake Up Call for All Politicos
Bob Herbert's latest column at the New York Times is a wake-up call for those in the government who refuse to see that the raging emergencies in our economy (and elsewhere) require bold action -- not just nibbling around the edges to stimulate a return to the very status quo that got us here in the first place. We need an economy that serves human needs in the 21st century, not a return to the broken economy that has virtually destroyed our middle class.
If we're ever to get out of this hole created by the forces of deregulation and the coddling of our wealthy elites and greedy Wall Street forces, we need to raise taxes on those who have partied on the backs of working Americans for many years. We need to finally jettison every single remnant of an economy based on Ronald Reagan's disreputable "trickle down" principles. In tandem, we need to create jobs here by means of government investment in targeted technologies and projects. We also need to launch a powerful effort to punish those who send our jobs to the lowest wage, slave-labor nations. We need to regulate business, trade, banking, finance and commerce so that they serve our needs, not just those of a relative handful of millionaires and billionaires. Here's an excerpt of what Herbert has to say:
This is a society in deep, deep trouble and the fixes currently in the works are in no way adequate to the enormous challenges we’re facing. For example, an end to the mantra of monthly job losses would undoubtedly be welcomed. But even if the economy manages to create a few hundred thousand new jobs a month, it would do little to haul us from the unemployment pit dug for us by the Great Recession. We need to create more than 10 million new jobs just to get us back to where we were when the recession began in December 2007.
What’s needed are big new innovative efforts to fashion an economy that creates jobs for all who want and need to work. Just getting us back in fits and starts over the next few years to where we were when the recession began should not be acceptable to anyone. We should be moving now to invest aggressively in a new, greener economy, leading the world in the development of alternative fuels, advanced transportation networks and the effort to restrain the poisoning of the planet. We should be developing an industrial policy that emphasizes the need for America to regain its manufacturing mojo, as tough as that might seem, and we need to rebuild our infrastructure.
Somehow, we've got to unite behind a mighty effort to blunt the clout of monied interests and their damaging, destructive impact on any and all proposed reform legislation:
If America can’t change, then the current state of decline is bound to continue. You can’t have a healthy economy with so many millions of people out of work, and there is no plan now that would result in the creation of millions of new jobs any time soon.Voters were primed at the beginning of the Obama administration for fundamental changes that would have altered the trajectory of American life for the better. Politicians of all stripes, many of them catering to the nation’s moneyed interests, fouled that up to a fare-thee-well.
If officeholders and candidates don't get this message, I think they're going to be incredibly shocked at the outcome of the 2010 elections. Voters are fed up with empty promises and more of the same. There is a hunger for courageous solutions to our myriad problems, not more kow-towing to big donors and armies of lobbyists. Do you hear any recognition of the keen emergencies we are facing and the horrible suffering already rampant in our communities in the consultant-schooled voices of those who claim they're dedicated to helping ordinary people?
Bottom line: Cut the blather and grow a spine.
Stephen Jones: A Tale of Two Cities
This is a post by contributing writer, Stephen Jones, who is a progressive political activist and a resident of Las Cruces, New Mexico.
On January 1, two mayors assumed office and, while addressing the challenges, both economic and structural, facing their respective cities, issued challenges not only to their own communities, but to the entire nation to rise above the cynical appeals to hatred amongst us, and to come together to build, not only better cities, but a better nation, for all of us. Taking up the mantle of hope and change Mayor Annise Parker of Houston and Mayor Michael Bloomberg of New York challenge all of us to join them in making our entire nation, as John Winthrop said nearly four centuries ago, “a shining city on a hill.”
Bloomberg, an entrepreneur whose firm developed the Bloomberg terminal trading system, is currently ranked 8th in the United States in personal wealth by Forbes. A former moderate Republican, Bloomberg abandoned the GOP in 2007 over its right-wing ideology. After a contentious decision of the New York City Council to alter the City’s term-limit ordinance to allow Bloomberg to run for a third term, he was re-elected running as an independent largely on the strength of his handling of New York’s economy and his record of delivering equitable services to all New Yorkers.
Annise Parker is a former software analyst, bookstore owner and past President of the Houston GLBT Political Caucus. She was elected to Houston’s City Council in 1997, that city’s first openly gay or lesbian elected official, then elected to the office of City Comptroller in 2003 and made history on December 12 when Houston voters elected her mayor. She is the first openly lesbian mayor of a major city.
On the first of the year both Mayor Parker and Mayor Bloomberg assumed office in the fourth and the first largest cities of the United States, respectively.
In a brief fourteen minute inaugural address Mayor Bloomberg promised to devote renewed energy to the ongoing economic issues and other challenges facing his city, then devoted most of his speech to the issue of New York’s immigrant communities and the issue of immigration reform. He reminded New Yorkers that he had vowed four years earlier to take on the N.R.A., and form an effective coalition of Mayors across the United States to address handgun violence. Now he has vowed to do the same for comprehensive immigration reform.
“Four years ago on this day,” Mayor Bloomberg said, “I stood before you and pledged that we would wage a new campaign against an old problem that takes a terrible toll on our communities. Since then, we have built a bi-partisan coalition of 500 mayors who have won victories in city halls, state houses, and yes – even Congress. Now, we'll set our sights on another national issue that affects New Yorkers in profoundly personal ways: Immigration reform.”
He introduced a group of recent immigrants to his city from New York’s Newcomers School, and continued, “With leaders from across the country, we will assemble a bi-partisan coalition to support President Obama's call for comprehensive immigration reform that honors our history, upholds our values, and promotes our economy. No city on Earth – no city – should hold these principles higher aloft than this city of immigrants. Because no city on earth has been more rewarded by immigrant labor, more renewed by immigrant ideas, more revitalized by immigrant culture, than the City of New York… I feel more strongly than ever that the future of our city, and our country, depends on newcomers… and on whether we honor the ideals that have lit the lamp of liberty in our harbor for more than a century, and that continue to inspire the world!”
In her inaugural speech, Mayor Parker also addressed the economic and structural challenges facing her city. She appealed to the citizens of Houston for their help. “The city of Houston is on your side,” Parker said. “I firmly believe that our city's future will be shaped by our citizens — not our politicians.”
She noted the nature of her own historic victory and thanked the people of Houston for giving her the opportunity to serve them as their mayor. “And to my community,” she said. “To those who are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgendered, I understand how much this day means. I feel your excitement and your joy, your apprehension and your longing for acceptance. I will gladly carry you forward. But today is simply one step toward a tomorrow of greater justice. And when the time comes, I will just as gladly pass the torch to the next in waiting, and I will cheer for them as you do me.”
Mayor Parker then went on to acknowledge the hearts, the hopes and the aspirations of all Houston’s people. “We are an international city. The whole world lives in Houston. We are cosmopolitan, international, diverse and tolerant… A great city is an ideal. It is a symbol for other cities. A great city embraces diversity. A great city refutes discrimination. A great city reaches into every corner of itself to assist those in need. A great city abhors elitism and selfishness. A great city rolls up its sleeves and revels in the work it performs. A great city is one in which all citizens feel the warmth of community, the presence of safety and the pleasure of dignity.” Parker said.
These two Americans, one a progressive mayor elected in a city in Texas, the other a moderate elected in the nation’s largest city, are working to deliver the change we can believe in; real change, and not just slogans, and each is working toward building communities, and examples for the nation, that reflect, in Lincoln’s words, “the better angels of our nature.” This dedication to values, as Mayor Bloomberg reminds us, “honors our history, upholds our values, and promotes our economy.”
We have an obligation to stand up to voices of fear and division and transcend that which divides us. Our diversity is our strength and not our weakness. Above all we must remain active and engaged and remember that this is a generational effort. Change does not happen in a single election. We must continue to work to elect progressives to local, state and national office, and hold those that stray, and have strayed from their promise of change, to account.
For today, let us celebrate those “cities on a hill,” Houston and New York, and take up their challenge and bring change to our own communities, and the nation.
To read more posts by contributing writer Stephen Jones, visit our archive.
Monday, January 04, 2010
Diane Denish Campaign Challenges GOP Gubernatorial Candidates to Disclose Year-End Fundraising & Donors
Some candidates -- like Lt. Gov. -- walk the walk on transparency and openness, while others -- like the GOP gubernatorial candidates -- just talk the talk.
Denish’s campaign today called on the Republican candidates for New Mexico Governor to disclose whether they will follow Denish’s lead and voluntarily file year-end finance reports and make public the names of the donors giving to their campaigns. Lt. Gov. Denish files reports every three months -- more often than New Mexico law requires -- and her campaign will make public its voluntarily year-end report in the next few weeks.
“I believe openness and transparency are always important, whether they relate to official state business or during campaigns for public office,” Denish said in a statement released today. “The press and the public should be able to frequently review who is financing campaigns and how much they’re giving. The Republican candidates for Governor like talking about the importance of transparency, but now they have an opportunity to back up their talk with action.”
Several weeks ago, when a reporter asked the GOP candidates whether they would follow Lt. Gov. Denish’s lead and voluntarily file a report in January, none of the candidates responded. It's about time they did.
Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino's Campaign for Lt. Gov. to Host Weekly Volunteer Meetings Starting Tonight
From Jerry Ortiz y Pino for Lt. Governor:
Weekly Volunteer Meetings will be held every Monday this month at 5:30 PM (Jan 4th, 11th, 18th, and 25th). Come to our office located in Winrock, between the two Dillards stores. Petition and Pre-Primary Crunch Time Is NOW! (Click here to download a petition form)
Please become a part of the growing Team Ortiz Y Pino. We have only one month left to collect petition signatures and round up volunteers to become delegates to the Democratic Party Pre-Primary Convention.
Jerry is the most qualified and progressive Lt. Governor candidate. He refuses to operate by gathering huge special interest donations and relies on his huge network of supporters. Volunteers are the backbone of such successful campaigns. This mean you!
Come to a meeting an see how you can help. Light refreshments provided. Can't make it on Monday nights? Call Virginia Calderon, our volunteer coordinator, at 505-554-2571 to get involved. Thank You!
Lt Gov. Candidate Joe Campos Asks for South Valley Petition Drive Help on Jan. 5
From Joe Campos for Lt. Governor and The Campos Team:
Joe Campos is having a petition drive on January 5th, 2010 in the South Valley of Bernalillo County. There will be eleven polling spots that will be targeted. The petition drive will be going on throughout the day with three different starting times, the first will start at 7:00 AM to 9:00 AM, then the second from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM and the last from 4:00 PM to 7:00 PM. Joe's campaign team will have petition packets made prior to the drive for all his supporters. Each petition packet will contain a map to one of the eleven polling locations.
Joe Campos would like his supporters to meet at the Campos Campaign Office Headquarters at 6:30 AM before the first drive, 10:30 AM before the second drive and 3:30 PM before the last drive of the day so that petition packets can be distributed to volunteers. The Campos Campaign Headquarters is located in Albuquerque at 1014 Central SW at 10th Street (map). Thank you in advance for your support and your help in Joe's endeavor to become New Mexico's next Lt. Governor.
For more information contact Eric Chavez, Petition and Volunteer Coordinator, at 505-927-0653 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Diane Denish Announces Additions to Senior Gubernatorial Campaign Staff
Lt. Gov. today released a statement announcing three additions to her senior campaign staff in her run for New Mexico governor. She pointed out that all three have experience on winning campaigns and deep ties to New Mexico.
Chris Cervini has been hired as Deputy Campaign Manager. Chris will oversee communications, research and policy development. A former chief-of-staff and communications director for Lt. Governor Denish, Chris is a veteran of several New Mexico political campaigns and most recently has worked in corporate communications. He is a graduate of Cibola High School and UNM and has a Master’s degree in Political Science from American University in Washington, D.C. Chris will serve as the primary media contact for the campaign.
Lynn Trujillo will serve as the campaign’s Political Director. Trujillo will oversee relationships with key constituencies. She is an enrolled member of Sandia Pueblo and is part Acoma and Taos. She is a member of the State Bar of New Mexico and has worked as general counsel to Sandia Pueblo and to the New Mexico Indian Affairs Department. She has also served as an associate in the Washington D.C. office of Steptoe & Johnson, LLP. During the 2008 Presidential election, Lynn worked as a field organizer for the Obama campaign in New Mexico.
Joseph Casados will serve as the campaign’s Field Director. Joseph is a native of Taos and received a BA in Philosophy and Political Science from the University of New Mexico. In 2004, Joseph was a Field Organizer for the Kerry-Edwards Coordinated Campaign. After 2004, Joseph worked for the Democratic Party as Northern New Mexico Regional Field Director from October 2005 to November 2007 and then as New Mexico Voter File Manager where he managed voter data and voter contact and oversaw the Absentee and Early Vote operation in the 2008 election.
“Chris, Lynn and Joe are talented young New Mexicans who understand our state and bring an uncommon commitment to bringing about economic recovery and opportunity for all New Mexicans,” Denish said.
Cervini, Trujillo and Casados join Campaign Manager Oren Shur, Finance Director Steve Fitzer and Research Director Amanda Hurley as the core senior staff for the campaign.
Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano Withdraws from Lt. Governor Race
Popular Santa Fe County Sheriff Greg Solano, a Democrat who entered the 2010 lieutenant governor primary race back in August of 2007, has decided to withdraw from the crowded field and call it a day. Solano has been very active on Twitter, Facebook and on his campaign blog during his candidacy so it's no surprise he announced his exit from the race in a yesterday.
Sheriff Solano's post goes into detail regarding why he decided to run, and why he decided to end his campaign, so I urge you to read it in its entirety. Among other things, Solano laments that raising large sums of money is now so central to campaigns that it overshadows the candidates' positions on the issues, especially in media and blog coverage. He also outlines the difficulties he encountered in trying to raise funds for a statewide race.
Solano believes he learned a lot from his candidacy and has no regrets about waging it:
I lost my first run at political office in 1998 when I first ran for Sheriff. I learned more from that loss than my subsequent two wins for the office of Sheriff. I can honestly say I learned a whole lot from my attempt to become the states next Lieutenant Governor. I have no regrets and the lessons learned will only help me in anything I do in the future. I have never been one to make New Years resolutions. I have always thought you should make decisions on your life and any changes on a day to day basis and not just once a year. So I start this new decade and New Year with a new adventure. The great thing about life is you never know where the road will take you.
When I was a young son of a single mother I would have never guessed in a million years I would even have an opportunity to run for Lieutenant Governor. I would have never guessed I would be Sheriff of Santa Fe County, meet three presidents and numerous movie stars and have the great life and family I now have. I am truly blessed. To all those who have supported my candidacy I hope I have not let you down. I have always been very pragmatic and logical in my decisions, (my wife says I am too logical and not emotional enough), She is probably right and I am constantly working on that. Logically I was not in a position to win. However, I have run races before where I have lost and come back to win another time, so don't count me out.
Sheriff Solano says that so far he's been asked by two candidates to endorse their campaigns, but he hasn't yet made any decisions on that score. He did comment on Facebook today that, "I hope a true progressive Democrat comes out on top."
The Democratic candidates still in the primary race for lt. governor are former Democratic Party of New Mexico Chair Brian Colón, State Rep. Joe Campos, State Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, State Sen. Linda Lopez and Lawrence Rael, former Executive Director of the Mid-Region Council of Governments (MRCOG).
To get on the June 1st primary ballot without having to gather additional petition signatures, the candidate must receive at least 20% of the vote at the Democratic Party of New Mexico's pre-primary convention on March 13. Whoever wins that primary will run as a ticket with the Dem gubernatorial candidate. Only Lt. Governor is currently a candidate for governor on the Dem side, and no challengers are expected to run at this point.
Sunday, January 03, 2010
Alamogordo Gun Rights-Tea Party Protester Hints Armed Violence to Come if Obama Doesn't Change
Video from report by Chris Dudley on NMI about protest
How many people showed up in Alamogordo, New Mexico yesterday to join an "open carry" gun display and protest against the Obama administration organized by the Otero Tea Party Patriots, the Alamogordo Second Amendment Task Force and the Sons of Liberty Riders? According to a news report on KOB-TV, there were about 200. The Alamogordo Daily News claimed 350, while a New Mexico Independent report says it was about 300.
Whatever the turnout, it's clear that many of those assembled are all about taking their country back from communists or socialists or fascists -- take your pick. They feel their Second Amendment gun rights are threatened -- although there's no evidence of any intent on the part of the Obama administration to do anything like that -- and they blame President Obama for a bad economy and the "socialist" plot represented by his proposed health care insurance reform and his actions to counteract the deep recession that began in earnest before he took office.
I can understand how right-wingers might be critical of President Obama and the Democrats in Congress. It's true that a Democratic agenda is being advanced, though many Democrats aren't pleased about the reluctance of Dems in Washington to push for deep change, instead of nibbling around the edges of the status quo. It's not surprising that Republicans, especially right-wing members of the GOP or those who support more libertarian policies, would be displeased with Democratic overtures. What IS surprising is how far out on the fringes some of the critics are about what's really going on in the federal government.
That Old Familiar Communist Threat
What year is it again? You'd swear we were back in the 1950's when Sen. Joe McCarthy was leading a witch hunt against alleged communists in the U.S. government, while the lunatic-infested John Birch Society was harping on the same issue and going so far as to claim that President Dwight Eisenhower was a "conscious, dedicated agent of the Communist Conspiracy."
Although we're now moving into the second decade of the 21st century, many right wingers apparently are convinced that communists are on the attack once again -- from within the White House and the halls of Congress. I guess they haven't noticed that the USSR is kaput, Red China really is no more and, if anything, unregulated capitalism has grown in power and impact everywhere. I have no idea how these protestors define communism -- but a Google image search on "communist Obama" turns up a wealth of imagery equating the President with Karl Marx. It would be funny if it wasn't so disturbing.
Clearly, some on the right believe that Obama is anti-American in some way and that another witch hunt or a possible armed insurrection might be necessary to preserver our constitution. Take this guy, quoted in the Alamogordo Daily News article:
Jim Kizer, of Alamogordo, carried his .444 Marlin rifle and .41 Smith and Wesson Magnum pistol to the event.
"I don't like what the Democrats are doing to our country," said Kizer. "I'm a Korean vet and I grew up in Alaska during World War II. I've fought Communists all my life, and now our government is being taken over by them. That's why I'm here."
In the video above, gun rally-Obama protest participant James of Tularosa explains why he's upset:
"I'm everything Obama hates. He's not too supportive of Israel, he's not too supportive of the Second Amendment. He's definitely not too supportive of the American flag ... A lot of the government now is intimidating people, that we're the criminals, we're the terrorists, not the terrorists."
A man from Las Cruces comments on his decision to openly carry a gun at the demonstration:
"It's a very open threat. If they try to take over the country completely as a socialist communist then they're going to have to answer. Political power comes from the barrel of a gun as their own people said.
... They're pushing us to our limits, that's why we're out here.
When asked what the limit would be that would trigger barrel of a gun type action, the same man replies,
"... I'm not saying what that is because the element of surprise is the main thing in any military victory, which we will do with the constitution if we have to. It's up to them to listen to us now to avoid that."
In other words, the federal government will have to obey the dictates of this guy and his pals or their guns will be used to strike back and get their way without the formality of an election or a ballot box.
An Unasked Question
If I had been there I would have asked the protestors if they would support a move to close down White Sands Missile Range, Holloman Air Force Base and other employers in Otero County that provide government jobs -- along with substantial spin-off money that goes directly into their communities. If they're so against what the government is and does, how do they justify so many in their communities living off the government dole, so to speak?
I wonder if they recognize that a very high percentage of the good-paying jobs in New Mexico are funded by the government with tax dollars paid by those who live outside the local tax base -- oftentimes on the East or West Coasts. According to the Otero County Chamber of Commerce, almost 30% of the jobs in the county are provided by the government. Well, there's socialism, and then there's socialism, right?