Friday, April 25, 2014

GOP Lawmaker Talks Up ALEC

Rep. Herrell
I hadn't even thought of the American Legislative Exchange lately, but I just got this news release from the state Republican Party that has Rep. Yvette Herrell, R-Alamogordo talking about her trip next week to an ALEC meeting in Kansas City.

ALEC hasn't been in the news much since the 2012 shooting death of unarmed teenager Trayvon Martin in Florida. That state's controversial "Stand Your Ground" gun law was based on model legislation from ALEC. In recent months, several corporations have left the group.

Earlier in 2012, there was a confrontation between ALEC and Occupy Santa Fe, which crashed a legislative dinner for ALEC at the Eldorado. One legislator's girlfriend was injured, but didn't press charges. The only people convicted were two hotel employees accused of roughing up a photographer . The two pleaded no contest to misdemeanor battery charges in Municipal Court.

The organization includes state lawmakers from all over the country. Not only does it have corporate sponsors -- which is the case for many national organizations -- corporations also are members. Their representatives help legislators craft model legislation.

Anyway, here's what Rep. Herrell had to say today about ALEC.

Next week, I will be traveling to Kansas City for the American Legislative Exchange Council spring meeting. As a volunteer leader of the organization in New Mexico, I am glad to attend these meetings and support state-based, free market initiatives. You will no doubt hear claims of undue influence by those who disagree with ALEC ideas and would rather attempt to discredit the organization than debate its proposals.

What is often and conveniently omitted from the anti-ALEC narrative is that member legislators believe in and support limited government, free market and federalism priorities, and we were elected by citizens who share the same views. As a legislator, I stand for my constituents’ interests and the interests of all New Mexicans first, and to make the best decision that is most consistent with the desires of my community, I need to be well informed.

Seeking information does not mean I agree with or act upon everything I hear.  Sometimes, standing up for New Mexicans involves discussing policy with other legislators from New Hampshire or New York or learning about what regulations might stifle free enterprise and innovation. These discussions and education are desperately needed in New Mexico.

Nearly half of all land in New Mexico and more than a third of our state budget comes from the federal government. But, as population growth slows, baby boomers age and the national debt increases, New Mexico needs to find new approaches to attracting businesses, creating opportunity and funding our state programs. As the federal money-well dries up, New Mexico continues to increase its dependence on a well that gives no water. Between 2001 and 2012, our state budget coming from the federal government increased from 28 percent to 37 percent. This is a serious problem—one that needs to be solved now.

So why should New Mexico legislators share with and learn from other state legislators about economic policy? Without smart and innovative policy, excessive federal spending will curtail competitiveness and stagnate growth in New Mexico. We are too dependent on the federal government and need innovative, free-market solutions to balance our budget and put New Mexico on a path to a sustainable future.

For proof that state-based solutions work, look no further than our neighbor, Texas.

The Lone Star state doesn’t collect a personal income tax and its hands-off approach allows businesses to thrive. The results have been impressive. Over the last decade, Texas’ job growth topped 12.5 percent – well above the national average – and more than a million more Americans moved to Texas than moved out.

Private sector enterprises are flocking to Texas, with tech firms leading the charge. In 2012, Apple alone created 3,600 new jobs across Texas. The Lone Star state is now home to the second-largest and fastest-growing technology sector in the country.

Meanwhile, economic growth in states that impose high-taxes and burdensome regulations has slowed to a crawl. In California, where the top individual income tax is a nation-high 13.3 percent, tax policy hasn’t solved the state’s economic woes. While Texas was creating jobs at a double-digit rate, California’s employment grew by only 0.4 percent.

Learning from the successes and failures of others helps me work with the New Mexico Legislature to create a bright future for all New Mexicans. A more informed legislator makes more informed decisions, and it is in this spirit that I am honored to serve New Mexico and glad to seek opinions and innovative solutions from all viewpoints.