Posted by Michael Swickard on Sunday, August 19, 2012
Posted by Jim Spence
In 2012 Chief Executive Magazine conducted a survey of 650 business leaders, who ranked New Mexico 33rd. This depressing position was driven by the taxation and regulation climate in the Land of Enchantment.
In 2010 the U.S. Chamber Institute for Legal reform surveyed more than 1,400 in-house counsel, senior litigators, attorneys and senior executives regarding the “litigation environment” for the various states. New Mexico came in 41st.
Our worst performance was in the category of “Business Friendliness,” meaning regulation and litigation environment, where we came in an abysmal 47th.
These statistics show the unseen and unmentioned drag on our economy is our legal and regulatory condition. Few seem willing to confront this issue, but we cannot continue to pretend more government spending will fix our problem.
One very compelling example of the litigation peril faced by New Mexico is the situation at the $200 million spaceport. We have been assured that this is our economic destiny and the state will ride to prosperity on the wings of futuristic spacecraft. The only problem is that even if we build it, which we did, they will not come if they are afraid they will get sued.
In 2010 legislation was enacted to limit the liability of operators of spacecraft. It was sensible because we all understand space flight is inherently risky; and if you decide to get on a spaceship, you are taking a chance things won’t go well. As sensible as this legislation was, it took heavy support from the Richardson administration to get it passed. Similar legislation to extend reasonable protection to spacecraft manufacturers and suppliers failed in 2012. It remains to be seen if the spaceport bears fruit or is another barren dream.
What is the difference? Regulation and litigation.
In the last census our rate of growth was below the region’s average. Only two states in the west grew at a slower rate. We must begin a serious and careful examination of what makes New Mexico undesirable to the employers that our children and grandchildren need.
We cannot pretend that throwing around taxpayer money will solve the problem. We must construct a foundation of reasonable regulations with a just legal system. If we build that, then they will come.