Tools to make capital outlay more efficient

Capital outlay funding is a controversial and difficult process. The demand for state money far exceeds the funds available; for the 2018 legislative session, state and local governments have requested over $2 billion for capital outlay funded by general obligation and severance tax bonds. The Department of Finance and Administration (DFA), the General Services Department and legislators are responsible for prioritizing these requests and allocating funds, but frequently find themselves missing the tools necessary to do so. Future generations and those new to politics may not understand the power that their legislators have when allocating capital outlay. While all New Mexicans suffer when capital outlay funds are spent on short-term projects that do not address long-term community needs, future generations are some of the most affected.

PNM’s Energy Redevelopment Bond Act deserves consideration

To characterize PNM’s request for legislators to identify alternative vehicles to mitigate costs inherent to their industry, which are ultimately born by the consumer, as an attempt to circumvent Public Regulatory Commission (PRC) authority is not only disingenuous but also indicative of the opposition’s selective research. A bi-partisan effort spearheaded by Sen. Jacob Candelaria, D-Albuquerque, and Sen. Steven Neville, Aztec, is underway as they have pre-filed the Energy Redevelopment Bond Act (SB 47). SB 47 is designed to provide the PRC a financial option for utility companies to trigger as a possible solution when addressing corporate debt. SB 47 is a “may” bill not a “shall” bill and in no way circumvents the regulatory jurisdiction of PRC regarding utility operations. In fact, SB 47 simply allows the PNM to submit an application to the PRC in which they would consider PNM’s intention to issue bonds.

Anti-sexual harassment policy needs outside investigators

In 2017 I was proud to co-sponsor and vote to pass legislation to place a strong Independent Ethics Commission on the 2018 ballot. In 2018, we must take another critical step forward for ethics and against corruption and implement a comprehensive anti-sexual harassment policy. Making the Capitol safe for everyone is an issue of basic human dignity and good government accountability. We know there is strong, bi-partisan support for this anti-sexual harassment policy. We also know that getting critical details right is essential for the policy to work.

Net neutrality under Title II was far from ‘neutral’

Despite the outcry from the political left, Chairman Ajit Pai and the Federal Communications Commission’s decision to end Title II regulation of the internet is the right move for individuals of all political stripes looking to create and share content on the internet. Government rules mandating that internet service providers treat all applications the same provided service providers less incentive to experiment with new ideas of how to get consumers the products they want. Thankfully, due in part to Pai’s leadership, this ill-conceived rule has now been overturned after just a few years. Notably, Title II flew in the face of years of bi-partisan agreement that government should maintain a “hands-off” policy towards the internet. In 1996, it was agreed that the internet was an information service and should be classified under the light touch regulation of Title I, not 1934’s Title II, but in 2015, instead of implementing ‘innocuous’ Net Neutrality consumer protections, the Obama FCC forced through a major expansion of regulatory state power by reclassifying the internet under Title II.

Beware of ‘one-size-fits-all’ punishment over sexual harassment

Across the country, everyone is talking about sexual harassment. A man tosses and turns as memories of past behavior roil his mind. Women examine their pasts, re-examining advances, furtive comments and wonder if they should have said something. New Mexico is no exception. Take, for example, an opinion piece recently authored by consultant Heather Brewer.

What should be considered by PRC in rate cases

While I shall defer to my esteemed counterparts at the the PRC regarding utility regulation I do represent ratepayers in District 22 and I wanted to take this opportunity to explain what I look for when the legislature is considering issues that affect the taxpayer. If possible, I look for multi-party consensus. While difficult to attain, given separate agendas and viewpoints on behalf of affected parties, it is possible after cooperation and compromise. In this spirit our State Attorney General, PNM, the Sierra Club, the Coalition for Clean and Affordable energy, as well as Western Resources Advocates are all signatories of a Revised Stipulated Agreement designed to “reach a fair, just, and reasonable resolution…consistent with public interest” in PNM’s current rate case before the PRC. In addition to the aforementioned signers the PRC’s own Utility Division Staff has signed on to the the Stipulated Agreement.

Congressional tax plan will hurt NM student success and put educator’s jobs at risk

The multi-trillion-dollar tax plan proposed by Republican leadership in Congress is a $5 trillion giveaway to the super-wealthy and corporations that will blow a hole in public-school budgets, hinder our ability to provide students with a good education, and put educators’ jobs at risk. By eliminating the state and local tax deduction (SALT), the Senate bill would blow a $370 billion hole in state and local revenue over 10 years and put at risk the jobs of nearly 370,000 educators. A state-by-state breakdown of the impact is available on this table. For New Mexico, the tax-plan could deal a devastating blow to school improvement efforts aimed at improving student success for our students. It means a loss of $650,593 over the next ten years in federal support our own taxpayers will have to make up for to avoid these cuts to our already-underfunded schools.

This #GivingTuesday, support local, non-profit journalism

Today is #GivingTuesday. It’s a change in pace from the shopping frenzy and chaos of Black Friday and the less-frenzied Cyber Monday. Instead it’s a day to give back to the non-profits and causes you care about most. NM Political Report is a non-profit news outlet. Even better, we’re a local non-profit news outlet.

Stipulated signatories should be heard on PNM rate case

Rate cases can be contentious, and 100 percent satisfaction is not attainable whether you’re on Capitol Hill, at the Roundhouse or the PRC. But once in awhile, parties from various backgrounds and political viewpoints breach traditional barriers and forge a compromise in the interest of a third party; in this case, ratepayers. PRC Commissioners have a golden opportunity to legitimize compromise, cooperation, and collaboration when they vote on PNM’s rate case. By rejecting the “modified” version and voting for the Revised Stipulated Agreement, commissioners can act in the best interest of PNM’s customers and at the same time encourage traditionally adversarial parties to return to the table in future cases. Outside of the very real benefits to ratepayers, commissioners have a chance (and perhaps a responsibility) to nurture a working environment that incentivizes environmentalists and utilities to continue to collaborate and compromise on behalf of ratepayers.

Stopping our own nuclear threat

Last week, U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tennessee, called the Senate Foreign Relations Committee together to investigate the president’s ability to command the use of nuclear weapons. It is heartening to see leaders on both sides of the aisle recognize the need to reevaluate this dangerous and undemocratic policy. While President Donald Trump may extol the leadership qualities of dictators and despots around the globe, his job is to function within the confines of the democracy we live in, and he must not be given unchecked power to attack any nation with the catastrophically destructive force of nuclear weaponry. For us New Mexicans, the danger of nuclear weapons hits close to home. In 1945, in a desert just a short drive from where I am writing this in Albuquerque, the U.S. government detonated its first atomic bomb.