Their view: Reforms needed to spur state’s economic growth

Vic Bruno is treasurer and a board member of New Mexico’s Rio Grande Foundation, which promotes limited government, economic freedom and individual responsibility. He says the foundation has several ideas on how to spur economic growth in New Mexico.

There has been a lot of discussion in New Mexico of ways to jump-start our struggling economy. This is good news. For too long, we have relied on the federal government to add or save jobs at the air bases or labs as the basis of the economy in our beautiful state.

There are expensive economic development studies in the works that are designed to answer the question of how best to spur New Mexico’s economy. The Rio Grande Foundation, using economic data from across the nation, has produced its own ideas.

The first is to eliminate New Mexico’s personal income tax. According to Arthur Laffer and Stephen Moore, “from 1998 to 2007, more than 1,100 people every day including Sundays and holidays moved from the nine highest income-tax states such as California, New Jersey, New York and Ohio and relocated mostly to the nine tax-haven states with no (state) income tax, including Florida, Nevada, New Hampshire and Texas.” In addition, Laffer and Moore also found that over these same years the no-income tax states created 89 percent more jobs and had 32 percent faster personal income growth than their high-tax counterparts.

The second major reform is the adoption of “right to work” legislation. Simply put, these laws prohibit employers and unions from requiring membership in a union or payment of union dues a condition of employment. Currently, New Mexico does not have such labor protections.

According to economist Richard Vedder, both population and income growth have been significantly faster in the 22 states with right to work laws.

The list of other reforms that could be made includes improving our failing educational system, reforming our regulatory system with an eye toward simplification, ease of compliance and lowered costs, and reducing the overall size and scope of New Mexico government by taking into account so many efficiencies afforded by a modern, technologically-driven workforce.