Quay County Sun - Serving the High Plains

Officials full of excuses for failings


December 14, 2016

For the second consecutive year, Wall Street 24/7, a respected online business news publication, has ranked New Mexico as the worst-run state in the union.

WS24/7 faults the state’s high rate of poverty, its low rate of high school graduates and its declining labor force, combined with a high rate of unemployment.

Further, WS24/7 notes, the state’s debt and outlook have been downgraded. Our tax shortages were large and unexpected, the publication says.

Comparing New Mexico both to the best-performing states and its neighbors raises a lot of questions.

The best-performing state is North Dakota and the fourth-best performer is Wyoming. Like New Mexico, both of these states rely heavily on oil and gas revenues and are sparsely populated.

North Dakota, WS24/7 says, has the nation’s lowest unemployment rate and home prices have increased more than 40 percent in five years.

As in New Mexico, North Dakota state government is facing a large budget gap and North Dakota’s economy actually shrank by 2.1 percent this year, but home prices are rising and people are working.

In Wyoming, WS24/7 notes that despite declining oil and gas tax revenue, the state’s state budget reserves amount to 50 percent of total annual expenditures, which is apparently far more than enough to cover shortfalls, WS24/7 says.

Wyoming also spends 43 percent more than the national average per student on education, and about 92 percent of Wyoming adults have at least a high school diploma, compared to 87 percent nationwide.

Two of our neighbors, Texas and Colorado, ranked seventh and eighth, respectively.

Texas’ population has increased by 1.2 million in five years. WS24/7 calls such growth a “bellwether of a well-managed state.”

And, WS24/7 reports, they’re working. Texas’ unemployment rate is only 4.5 percent.

Meanwhile, Texas state government has managed to save a fifth of its funds as reserves.

Like Texas, Colorado has enjoyed high net population growth, and only 3.1 percent of the Colorado labor force was out of work in October.

Colorado’s economy increased by 3.6 percent in 2015, ranking it fourth in growth. That growth has been lit up by Colorado’s legal marijuana business, WS24/7 reports.

The top two states have seen the same impact of falling oil prices as New Mexico, and our neighbors are scooping up people and keeping them employed.

New Mexico needs to start asking hard questions about its tax, regulatory, workforce development and education systems.

Other states seem to be getting beyond the obstacles New Mexico’s officialdom cites as excuses.

Steve Hansen writes about our life and times from his perspective of a retired Tucumcari journalist. Contact him at: [email protected]


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