Is This Any Way to Treat the Job Creators?

Commentary by Marita Noon - It’s no wonder that, as the New York Times (NYT) headline declared: “Growth in jobs slows sharply to 3-year low.” Addressing the Labor Department’s disappointing December Jobs Report, CNNMoney’s headline states: “2013 ends with weakest job growth in years.” USA Today called it a “Big miss” and CNBC’sJim Cramer sees the 74,000 gain in payrolls as “A disastrous unemployment number.”
     USA Today surveyed 37 economists whose median forecast for the December jobs number was a gain of 205,000 jobs. Not only did the report’s 74,000 jobs gain fall far short of the 205,000 jobs forecast, it is not the only number that portends a job market about which CNNMoney believes: “suddenly looks a lot weaker than economists had thought.” USA Today points out: “For the year, employers added 2.18 million jobs, slightly fewer than 2012’s total of 2.19 million.” It adds: “Payroll growth was weak across the board, with education and health services, a reliable source of job growth even through the recession, adding no jobs.”
     The one apparent bright spot in Friday’s Jobs report a sharp drop in the unemployment rate to 6.7 percent from 7 percent was tarnished because it largely resulted from people exiting the work force rather than because they landed jobs. The work force shrank by 347,000 in December, reversing a big gain from November, and returning the proportion of Americans in the labor force to its October level of 62.8 percent, the lowest in 35 years.”
     According to the Associated Press (AP), White House senior advisor Dan Pfeiffer sent out an email Tuesday morning to the White House list of supporters claiming: “The president will use every tool he can to create jobs and opportunities for the middle class.” While I oppose this administration’s fondness for skirting Congress through the use of executive orders, here’s a case where an “executive order or administrative action” could really help “pick up the pace of the jobs message.”
     If President Obama truly wanted to “create jobs and opportunities for the middle class,” he could tell the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) to work with—instead of against—people and companies who are ready to risk their capital in the development of our natural resources and create jobs.More


College prep programs get a funding boost

The college-prep programs in four New Mexico school districts got a big financial boost this week.  
Gov. Susana Martinez has announced each district will receive a $100,000 grant to start or expand on programs that prepare high school students for college. 
The funds are from a Denver-based foundation and are going to districts in Albuquerque, Carlsbad, Gadsden and Hobbs.
Martinez made the announcement on Thursday at Arrowhead Park Early College High School. The Las Cruces program was the first such program in the state. 
Officials in the some school districts say the money will help immensely with purchasing technology and recruiting new students. 


Legislator files pre-bill to legalize marijuana

New Mexico State Senator Ortiz y Pino pre-filed Senate Joint Resolution 10 Friday proposing to amend New Mexico’s constitution to tax and regulate marijuana for adult use. 
SJR10 would allow for the possession and personal use of marijuana by persons 21 years of age and older and for the regulation of the production, sale and taxation of marijuana in New Mexico.
 If SJR10 passes, both the House and the Senate, the amendment will be placed on the November 2014 general election ballot for the voters to decide. 
Harvard University professor of economics Jeffrey Miron concluded that New Mexico could bring in between $19 – $20.82 million annually in marijuana tax revenues alone and by ending marijuana prohibition, the state of New Mexico could save over $33 million on police, courts and corrections costs of enforcing existing marijuana laws.


Congress withholds funding for horse slaughter to resume

The resumption of the commercial slaughtering of horses was blocked Friday as President Barack Obama signed a budget measure that withholds money for required federal inspections of the slaughtering process.
 The measure provides temporary funding for the federal government, but it stops the U.S. Agriculture Department from spending on horse slaughterhouse inspections. 
The last domestic horse slaughterhouses closed in 2007, a year after Congress withheld inspection funding. Since federal money was restored in 2011, plants in New Mexico, Missouri and Iowa have fought to start slaughtering to potentially export horse meat for overseas consumers.

Meanwhile, on Friday in New Mexico, State District Court Judge Matthew Wilson granted New Mexico Attorney General Gary King’s motion for a preliminary injunction against Valley Meat Company, preventing the opening of a proposed horse slaughterhouse until the AG’s lawsuit is resolved.

 In a statement relased to the press, King said, “The judge’s decision allows our lawsuit to continue while preventing the immediate killing of horses for human consumption. I still strongly believe that Valley Meat’s proposal for commercial horse slaughter posed a serious danger to consumers and to our environment.”