Middle East Turmoil - Market Turmoil

Muammar Gaddafi
Bloomberg - Oil rallied, touching $100 a barrel in New York for the first time since October 2008, as Libya’s uprising threatened to halt exports. Stocks fell amid concern higher energy costs will slow economic growth, while Treasuries dropped after a $35 billion auction. Crude for April delivery settled at $98.10 after surging as much as 4.8 percent to $100. Gasoline and heating oil also jumped. The Standard & Poor’s 500 Index slid 0.6 percent as of the 4 p.m. close in New York after tumbling 2.1 percent yesterday, the most in six months. Hewlett-Packard Co. led losses in equities after its forecasts trailed analysts’ estimates. Sugar and cotton dropped more than 1.9 percent. The euro gained on prospects for higher interest rates. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Rawson's SIC Reform Motion Passes Unanimously

Lee Rawson
Santa Fe - A motion by State Investment Council member Lee Rawson passed unanimously today.  Basically the motion paves the way to get the SIC out of the film loan business. The Public Equity Investment Committee has been asked to develop a film loan program with these two criteria: 1. Film loans must have a 100% guarantee, 2. Film loans must be at market rate, given the guarantee. The SIC Public Equity Investment Committee is also tasked with bringing a recommendation to the SIC to terminate the contract with the Film Advisor. Apparently the SIC Film Auditor offered assurances to the SIC that the state will NOT receive any participatory payments from film profits. These payments were supposedly to offset the ZERO % interest loans made. The bottom line according to those observing the SIC actions is the state has Zero % loans with absolutely no upside, while still potentially losing the state's investment principal.
Apparently, recognizing their roles as fiduciaries, the SIC members are putting the legislature and the executive on notice that it does not intend to make any film loans without a clear and formal direction in statutes. It would seem that the action taken today by the SIC was done to allow the legislature 30 days to pass legislation if the legislature and governor so choose.


Getting the Checkbooks OPEN for Public

Capitol Report New Mexico - Last week, we posted a story about a bill that would put public school financial information online for taxpayers to inspect. Click here for details. On Wednesday (Feb. 23), Senate Bill 327 unanimously passed the Senate Education Committee and will now move on the Senate floor. Read full story here: News New Mexico

Martinez Seeks Disaster Funds

SANTA FE - Governor Susana Martinez announced today that she has asked the Obama administration for a federal disaster declaration in parts of New Mexico in order to make federal funds available to offset damages incurred to the state and local communities as a result of extreme cold weather and natural gas outages earlier this month. Federal laws require a governor to seek a presidential disaster declaration in order to receive these funds by submitting a written request through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). "We have been working with FEMA since day one to ensure that New Mexico's cities, counties and pueblos are able to recover from the aftermath of the numerous problems created by extreme cold weather and natural gas outages across the state," said Governor Martinez. "We will continue the process of rebuilding and recovering by asking the federal government for a disaster declaration. This will allow us to work with local communities to process and repair damage as quickly as possible."
State officials and FEMA personnel have been inspecting damaged government buildings, roads and other infrastructure in order to qualify for a Presidential Disaster Declaration. These federal funds supplement $750,000 in emergency funds the Governor has already authorized as well as a $1.1 million fund created by the Department of Finance and Administration through a U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Community Development Block Grant (CDBG). This DFA fund, announced yesterday, will provide disaster relief specifically to low-income New Mexicans and will be overseen by New Mexico Regional Planning Districts throughout the state. Inspections have been conducted in the counties of Taos, Rio Arriba, Sandoval, Bernalillo, Socorro, Sierra, Otero and Lincoln. In addition to widespread natural gas outages across the state, Lincoln County suffered a massive water outage due to frozen water mains in Ruidoso and other communities as temperatures plunged to lower than -30 degrees in some areas of the state. The Pueblos of Taos, Santa Clara, San Felipe, and Santa Ana, as well as the Mescalero Apache Tribe, have also suffered infrastructure damage. The New Mexico Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management will coordinate all requests for assistance from New Mexico counties and cities once the disaster declaration is approved.


The Force Behind BIG Government

The dots are getting so close together a four year old could connect them. State budgets are in trouble all over the nation. The degree of fiscal disaster including unfunded public pension liabilities varies primarily with the level of growth and influence of public employee unions in each state. In recent decades most citizens with customers to serve who compete in the private sector have scratched their heads as the influence of government has gotten larger and larger. The explanation is simple. The plans of public labor union bosses have been working like a charm. At the core of their growth plans are calls for ever bigger government. The easiest way to make logic of all this is to follow the money. Untold millions in public employee union dues come out of taxpayers pockets through government employee paychecks. These funds are deployed in the political arena at the discretion of public union bosses. Roughly 98% of the time these bosses funnel the money to Democrats.
Union Boss Rich Trumka
When Democrats win elections, they vote for bigger government. As government gets larger, union bosses are afforded more union dues. Over time the growth of government in nearly every state has become a geometric progression. Unfortunately, this circular relationship has continued to this day with state budgets in deficit virtually everywhere. Suddenly in November of 2010, voters in many areas demanded fiscal responsibility. And since Democrats had been in charge of the vast majority of governments around the nation they became the obvious targets. After smashing national and statewide GOP victories in November, policies to limit the size and scope of both government and public employees unions were laid on the table. How will all of this play out in places like Madison, Wisconsin and Santa Fe, New Mexico?
Private sector workers and employers are forced to be spectators. They can’t descend on the state capitol and chant slogans. They have to show up for work each day. At best private sector workers might take a minute or two to read the news to see what happened that day or listen to News New Mexico. In the meantime tens of thousands of union organizers and activists have simply walked off their government jobs. Once they arrive in seats of government like Madison or Santa Fe they scream and holler, essentially demanding there be a continuation of the vicious bigger government cycle.
The good news is now that change is being attempted and the opponents of change have exposed themselves, connecting the dots and identifying the conflicts of interest is simple. Accordingly, counter protests have been organized. But of course the numbers of citizens participating in the counter protests are smaller. The trouble is most people with a real stake in stopping this fiscal death spiral are busy doing their jobs each day. They are glued to their work stations because they must please their customers each day or lose their jobs. Public union members have no similar pressures to deal with.


Unions: New Mexico Next

Santa Fe New Mexican - Hundreds of New Mexico labor union members came to the Roundhouse on Tuesday to show solidarity with state workers in Wisconsin, who for the past week have been demonstrating over their governor's plan to end their collective-bargaining rights. Among the unions represented at the noon-hour rally were the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, teachers, communications workers, firefighters and film-industry workers.

Striking AFSCME Workers
They carried signs with messages like, "Don't Balance the Budget on the Backs of State Workers," "We're With Wisconsin Workers," "Solidarity with Tunisa, Egypt & Wisconsin," and "Say No to Republican Tyrant Governors." But while some speakers said New Mexico could be the next battleground for state worker unions, a spokesman for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez downplayed any similarities between Wisconsin and New Mexico and stressed Martinez's appreciation of state workers. "There is a huge problem in the United States of America," Christine Trujillo, president of the New Mexico Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO, told the crowd. "The infection has started in Wisconsin. But what's happened in Wisconsin could happen to any of us. And we're here to make sure it doesn't happen in the state of New Mexico." Read full story here: News New Mexico


Public Unions Must Go

Jonah Goldberg
Townhall - The protesting public school teachers with fake doctor's notes swarming the Capitol building in Madison, Wis., insist that Gov. Scott Walker is hell-bent on "union busting." Walker denies that his effort to reform public-sector unions in Wisconsin is anything more than an honest attempt at balancing the state's books. I hope the protesters are right. Public unions have been a 50-year mistake. A crucial distinction has been lost in the debate over Walker's proposals: Government unions are not the same thing as private-sector unions. Read full column here: News New Mexico