New Florida Governor set to start transforming Florida education... NM set to copy Florida before change

From National Review Online - by Reihan Salam - While surveying the newly-elected right-of-center governors, Rick Scott didn’t immediately leap to mind as the most promising. But it is Rick Scott, the controversial healthcare executive who now serves as the governor of Florida, who has offered what I consider to be the most significant, transformative ideas I’ve ever seen advanced by an actual elected official with any real power. The newly elected Republican’s education transition team recently released its recommendations for school policy, which are chocked full of far-reaching proposals. Read more

Ted Kennedy's Wife Rules Out Senate Run

Ted and Vicki Kennedy
From -The widow of Sen. Edward Kennedy (D-Mass.) has ruled out running for her late husband's seat in her strongest words to date. Vicki Kennedy said she won't run to challenge Sen. Scott Brown (R-Mass.) in 2012, or run for president in the future. “There will not be a yes," Kennedy told Boston Globe columnist Scot Lehigh on whether she'd agree to run. "The Senate is not where I see my future." More here

Governor Addresses Child Safety Issues

Governor Martinez
ALBUQUERQUE – Governor Susana Martinez issued the following statement after speaking at the Children’s Law Institute, an annual conference of legal professionals and workers focused on juvenile justice and child protection services. “As a former District Attorney, I know firsthand the need to be vigilant about keeping our children safe,” said Governor Martinez. “It is imperative that law enforcement and child services professionals have the necessary tools to make New Mexico a safer place. From day one of this administration, we have committed ourselves to fight for the future of our children and bring to justice those who would seek to do them harm.” During her time as District Attorney for New Mexico’s Third Judicial District, Governor Martinez personally prosecuted some of the toughest cases of child abuse and child homicide. In 2006 she was instrumental in passing Katie’s Law, requiring DNA collection from violent criminals in order to make it easier to prosecute crimes committed against children. On her first day in office, Governor Martinez announced her support for an expansion of this law to include all criminals arrested for felony offenses.


The Virtue of Sarah Palin

Pamela Geller
From -Wednesday Sarah Palin responded to the vicious blood libel leveled against her and millions of right-thinking Americans by the army of destroyers. The ferocious, relentless attacks on Sarah Palin are a testament to her greatness, proof of how deathly afraid of her they are, like Dracula to the silver cross .It’s envy. Ayn Rand said it: “Envy is regarded by most people as a petty, superficial emotion and, therefore, it serves as a semihuman cover for so inhuman an emotion that those who feel it seldom dare admit it even to themselves….That emotion is: hatred of the good for being the good.” Here’s the thing. The mission, by objective, of the haters, the party of destruction, is to ruin the best, the brightest, the good. The left has, day after day, month after month, year after year, decade after decade, trafficked only in ruin and destruction, focusing on the most effective leaders on the right.  More here

Biden: US is Not The Enemy of Islam

Joe Biden
 From -After talks with Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani he described as "extremely useful", Biden addressed anti-American sentiment in Pakistan, fanned by the ongoing war in Afghanistan and a covert US drone campaign on its border. "There are even some sections in Pakistani society and elsewhere that suggest American disrespects Islam and its followers," Biden told a joint press conference at the prime minister's residence. "We are not the enemies of Islam and we embrace those who practice that great religion in all our country," he added. More here

Global Warming Update: Snow in 49 States

From -A warming planet continues to cause snowstorms, and as of now, only Florida is being spared the wrath: You might recall that last February, we posted about the news that there was at least a trace of snow on the ground in all 50 states. Well, according to the National Weather Service, the only state that this morning didn’t have at least a bit of snow on the ground was Florida. Yes, according to the Weather Service: “This includes Hawaii where about seven inches of snow is atop Mauna Kea.” Snow is currently on the ground in 69.4 percent of the lower 48 — it would be on 70.2 percent of the ground but Al Gore covered a field of Tennessee Irises with one of his sport jackets so they wouldn’t frost while he was wintering in his new California mansion. More here

Litigation Onslaught Begins

Susana Martinez - Inaugural Address - 8 Degrees
Santa Fe New Mexican — Gov. Susana Martinez's administration defended itself Wednesday against allegations that it circumvented the law when it put the brakes on the publication of numerous pending and proposed rules in the state register, including new regulations aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions across New Mexico. The New Mexico Environmental Law Center claims in a lawsuit filed Tuesday with the state Supreme Court that the administration disregarded the law when it moved to halt the codification and printing of the greenhouse gas regulations, which were approved in December by state regulators and filed with the state records administrator. Without publication, the rules cannot become effective. The law center petitioned the court on behalf of New Energy Economy, a nonprofit group that pushed for the greenhouse gas emissions cap. The center is asking the court to force Martinez and F. David Martin, whom she nominated to head the state Environment Department, to follow the law and have the regulations published. Read full story here:


Who is afraid of the Repeal Amendment?

From the Washington Examiner - By: Randy B. Barnett - Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, has introduced into Congress a very simple and clear amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Called the Repeal Amendment, it reads:

"Any provision of law or regulation of the United States may be repealed by the several states, and such repeal shall be effective when the legislatures of two-thirds of the several states approve resolutions for this purpose that particularly describe the same provision or provisions of law or regulation to be repealed."

In short, the legislatures of two-thirds of the states can repeal any federal law or regulation. Arising from those who are distressed at the seemingly limitless power of the federal government -- taking over everything from car companies, banks, student loans, and even the practice of medicine -- the Repeal Amendment seems to have touched a nerve on the left. First, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank played the race card. "[T]here's the unfortunate echo of nullification -- the right asserted by states to ignore federal laws they found objectionable -- and the 'states' rights' argument that was used to justify slavery and segregation." But this is imaginary. Undermining civil rights is simply not on the agenda of anyone who favors this. Besides, to reach the two-thirds threshold to repeal any law would require the support of lots of blue states as well as red states, from different parts of the country. Then Slate's Dahlia Lithwick attempted to find a contradiction in supporters' professed love for the Constitution. "For a party (whether of the Tea or Grand Old variety) that sees the Constitution as something so perfect as to have been divinely inspired, the idea that it needs to be altered fundamentally is beyond crediting. . . ." But the Constitution includes the amendment process of Article V, which has already been used to alter the scheme by allowing an income tax and eliminating the power of state legislatures to select U.S. senators. Read more

House Minority Leader Tom Taylor on NewsNM

Tom Taylor
Tom Taylor a Republican from Farmington and the New Mexico House of Representative Minority Leader will appear on News New Mexico for an early interview Wednesday morning. Taylor is scheduled for the 6:30am to 7:00am time segment. We will ask Taylor for his take on the upcoming Speaker of the House vote. There have been several reports from News New Mexico, Capitol Report New Mexico, and regarding a behind the scenes movement around the state to remove sitting speaker Ben Lujan at the beginning of the upcoming session. Lujan's tenure was opposed by Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces) in the Democratic Party Caucus held in Santa Fe in November.
Joseph Cervantes
Various reports have placed the number of speaker votes Cervantes received within his own party during the lengthy caucus meeting at somewhere between four and ten votes. And in recent days there has been considerable speculation by political observers from around the state that Cervantes has the support of 30-31 Republicans and as many as ten Democrats. If this vote count estimate is accurate, it would total more than the 36 votes needed to make Cervantes the next Speaker of the House. Of course nearly all discussions regarding the speaker contest have been speculation, except perhaps for a conversation Rob Nikolewski of Capitol Report New Mexico had with Andy Nunez (D-Hatch). Nunez was reported to have said he believes the votes are in place to make a change at the speaker position.


Want to Balance Budget? Change NM poverty line

Commentary by Michael Swickard, Ph.D. – The quickest way to address the current budget shortfall which is very much tied to Medicaid is to look at the New Mexico description of poverty for Medicaid.

Over the years to get more participation in New Mexico Medicaid and more federal reimbursement the state changed the apparent poverty line from the federal standard description to the New Mexico Poverty line which was 235% of federal mark.

Why not bring the New Mexico poverty line back closer to the federal line?

Just asking.

Eliminating tax credits and deductions won’t solve budget problem

From NM - By Paul J. Gessing • 1/11/11, - With a $400 million budget deficit facing lawmakers when they return to Santa Fe, the 100+ tax credits and deductions that the state offers have justifiably come under greater scrutiny. While we applaud the increased concern over New Mexico’s fiscal condition, there are a few important points to keep in mind. First and foremost, while the Tax and Revenue Department lists the film subsidy as a “tax credit,” this is a misnomer that can lead to poor policy decisions. The full spreadsheet of credits, exemptions and deductions is available on our website. The film “credit” provides a 25 percent rebate on each dollar the film industry spends in the state. In FY 2009, this amounted to a $76 million outlay, while in FY 2010, the total expenditure was approximately $66 million. This wealth transfer is inherently inefficient and should be considered for elimination. The rest of the tax credits and deductions involve people or businesses not paying taxes on activities that would otherwise have been taxed. From both an economic and moral perspective, the film subsidy is far different than a credit or deduction. Transferring money from one taxpayer to another is far different than simply allowing a taxpayer to hold onto his or her own money. Read more

Budgeting Differences Begin to Emerge

Governor Martinez
Santa Fe New Mexican - Judging by their budget proposals, Gov. Susana Martinez and the Legislature agree on a lot of things. But spending on the state's prisons and the Environment Department aren't among them. Neither is the state's controversial film-tax credit program. Martinez on Monday announced that she would save $25 million by trimming the controversial subsidy to film companies that former Gov. Bill Richardson touted as a job-generating program. The Legislature's plan doesn't contemplate the film-tax credit program. Those differences in the two budget proposals showcase potential fights during this year's 60-day legislative session.
Both plans will compete for votes as Martinez and state lawmakers work to close the gap between New Mexico's revenues and expenses. On Monday, Martinez sounded as if she were contemplating her first veto at the mention of the Legislature's recommendation to cut the state's corrections agency by nearly $11 million, taking it to $251 million in funding from more than $262 million. Such a deep cut to the corrections agency likely would lead to the "early release of prisoners," Martinez said Monday, explaining why she opposes the recommendation. Meanwhile, Martinez wants to trim the New Mexico Environment Department by $3 million, which would take that agency from $14.2 million to $11.2 million in funding, a sizable difference from the Legislature's recommended cut of $800,000. Read more here:

The Great Film Debate in NM

Capitol Report New Mexico - The Great New Mexico Film Debate proved to be box office boffo Tuesday (Jan. 11) as more than 300 people squeezed into the National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque while another 96 sat and watched the debate in an overflow room and more than 100 others were turned away due to lack of space. The debate centered on the state’s film subsidy which lures Hollywood moviemakers to New Mexico by providing a 25 percent tax subsidy to producers. Two state lawmakers — Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort (R-Sandia Park) and Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe) argued the film program has brought in more than a billion dollars in qualfied spending and has been – in the words of Beffort — “the gold standard” among state film programs across the country. Two other lawmakers — Rep. Dennis Kintigh (R-Roswell) and Rep. Janice Arnold-Jones – argued the subsidy costs taxpayers $65 million last year and should be capped or eliminated. Read full story here:

U.S. Heading for Another Gas Crunch?

Washington Times - With gasoline prices at unusually high levels for this time of year, a report from a presidential commission Tuesday did little to break the political deadlock over offshore drilling, prompting some observers to warn that the U.S. is headed toward another gas-price crunch this summer. The nationwide average price of regular gas over the weekend rose to $3.08 a gallon while crude-oil prices have surged to more than $90 a barrel — levels seen in only one previous winter, in 2007-08. Gasoline prices then ran up dramatically in the 2008 spring-summer driving season and reached an all-time high of more than $4, prompting public outrage and demands that the government open offshore drilling for the first time in 30 years. Read full story here:

China Would "Welcome" U.S. Statement on Dollar Asset Holdings Held by Chinese

Hu Jintao
Bloomberg - China said it would “welcome” a positive statement from the U.S. on the stability of Chinese- held dollar assets during next week’s summit in Washington between President Hu Jintao and President Barack Obama. “If the U.S. makes a positive statement on this issue we surely will welcome that,” Chinese Vice Foreign Minister Cui Tiankai said in response to a question at a press briefing today in Beijing. “China follows very closely the economic health of the United States and vice versa.”
China is the largest foreign holder of U.S. Treasury securities, with $906.8 billion at the end of October, according to U.S. figures. China’s sovereign wealth fund also invests in U.S. companies and assets and a growing number of Chinese people own U.S. real estate. Read full story here: