COMMENTARY: We need change in New Mexico. Through Governor Martinez’s fiscal malfeasance she has commandeered our economy into financial obsolescence. The governor should be impeached.
According to the latest report by the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a federal government agency under the U.S. Department of Commerce, New Mexico’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) was placed at the bottom of all 50 States and the District of Columbia, with a negative growth for the 3rd quarter of 2016.
For the second year in a row, 24/7 Wall St LLC, a financial news and opinion service delivered over the internet, named New Mexico as the worst-run state in the nation. They based their ranking on state finances, socioeconomic factors, education and social conditions.
In December 2016, Forbes Magazine ranked New Mexico as having the slowest employment growth in the United States over the past five years. It was ranked in the worst end of the spectrum at 47th out of 50 states, and faired poorly on quality-of-life metrics with low school test scores and sky-high crime; compounded by the states’ abysmal Gross State Product Growth of only 0.60 percent over the last five years.
Moody’s Investors Services recently downgraded the state’s credit rating for general obligation bonds with a negative rating.
While states around us have rebounded since the great recession that started in 2008, we have not. In particular, our construction industry is in the abyss while Denver’s and Austin’s skylines are flocked with construction cranes resembling early morning lift-off at Bosque del Apache.
One of the governor’s constitutional responsibilities is to submit a balanced budget to the state Legislature. As a large part of our state’s revenue (and therefore budget projection) is derived from severance taxes from oil and natural gas extracted from the state’s land holdings, one would expect that those who establish the budget also monitor the price of oil and natural gas. In 2014 the price of oil dropped from over $100 per barrel to around $43 per barrel.
Through 2015 it fluctuated between $40-60 per barrel. It bottomed out in February 2016 at $26.21 per barrel. Since then, the price of oil has moved up to around $54 per barrel. Meanwhile the price of natural gas fluctuated similarly to oil during the same time period but not at the same extremes.
In reviewing Governor Martinez’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2016, submitted in January 2015, she had an increase of $141 million, or 2.3 percent, over the previous year’s budget, yet the price of oil declined by over 250 percent. Furthermore, the governor’s proposed 2017 budget, submitted in January 2016, sought additional spending increases of $228 million.
After the state’s budget malaise became public, a special legislative session was called in the fall of 2016 to address our budget shortfall. In lieu of focusing on the fiscal crisis, she tried to deflect her failure to run the state’s economy by trying to get a death penalty law enacted. Now she plans to suck our state’s public school districts empty to help balance the budget.
Governor Martinez has led the State of New Mexico into a fiscal hellhole. She has conducted fiscal malfeasance. As our economy was sinking she either had no clue or was concealing the looming deficit. The governor should be impeached for her fiscal misconduct and failure to perform her budgetary duties.
Lee Gamelsky is principal/owner of Lee Gamelsky Architects P.C. The Albuquerque firm was started in 1987 and has designed several prominent award winning projects. Lee resides in the Los Duranes neighborhood, tending bees and a small orchard.