Source: Charles W. Sullivan
The last time Republicans held a majority on this state’s Supreme Court was in the 1920s. Its Court of Appeals has never had a Republican majority.
The last time Republicans held a majority in both houses of the state Legislature at the same time was 1930. In the 89 years from 1931 to the present, Democrats have held a majority of both houses of the state Legislature for 79 of the 89 years.
Since 1931, Democrats have held the governor’s office for 69 of the 89 years. Even when a Republican has been governor, his powers have been greatly limited because he has never held a majority in both houses of the state legislature while in office.
What state am I?
If you guessed CA, IL, NY, NJ, or MA, you’re wrong. If you guessed NM, go to the head of the class (here) (here). Since 1931, no other state has had single-party Dem rule at the state level as long as New Mexico. And how has New Mexico fared under the stewardship of single party Democrat rule? As we shall see, not so well.
EDUCATION: By all accounts, New Mexico has one of the worst, if not the worst, K–12 public education system in the country. It is a system that spends vast sums of money but has little or no accountability for the students, teachers, administrators, parents, or elected officials. Here are the sobering stats. It has recently been rated as the worst state public school system in the country. Among the country’s 11,850 school districts, only one from New Mexico, Los Alamos, is rated in the top 1,000. A charity named the New Mexico Coalition for Literacy estimates that an astonishing 46% of the adults in the state are functional illiterates.
Sadly, the state university system is little better. It is an example of quantity over quality. Despite its small population of 2.1 million, New Mexico has a staggering seven state-funded colleges and universities that grant four-year degrees. In contrast, neighboring Arizona with a population of 7.3 million has three. Not a single college or university in New Mexico is ranked in the nation’s top 500.
CRIME: New Mexico is a dangerous place to live, and a lot of judges are reluctant to lock up criminals. It is #1 in the country for per capita property crime and #2 for violent crime. Albuquerque, by far the state’s largest city, has the dubious distinction of a #1 ranking for auto thefts in the entire nation. Don’t expect the Chamber of Commerce or the Department of Tourism to brag about the fact that Albuquerque is ranked as the 12th most dangerous city in the U.S. Expect Albuquerque to move up on the list, as it just had a record number of homicides in 2019.
JOBS/ECONOMY: New Mexico survives financially because it receives enormous sums of money from two sources: the federal government and the oil and natural gas industry. The federal government has spent a gigantic amount of money in the state since the 1940s, with the development of the bomb and all the defense spending that came afterwards. The state also receives millions of dollars each year from oil and gas revenues, especially from leases of state land. With the fracking revolution going on in the Permian Basin in southeast New Mexico, the state is swimming in tax revenues and has a large budget surplus.
Despite all the mentioned revenue and the production bonanza in the Permian Basin, New Mexico has one of the worst job markets in the country. It has the fourth highest unemployment rate of any state. It’s the second hardest state in the country in which to find full-time employment. As one would expect of a state that has had single-party Dem rule for nearly 90 years, the state is teeming with public-sector employees and has the third highest percentage of public-sector workers in the country. The national average for public sector workers is 15.1%, while New Mexico has 22.2%. In other words, New Mexico has 47% more public sector workers than the national average. Not surprisingly, New Mexico is more dependent on federal spending than any other state and receives more in per capita federal spending than all but two states.
POVERTY: Poverty among adults is usually associated with low education levels, and poverty among children is usually associated with being raised in a single-parent home. New Mexico has lots of both. As of November 2019, New Mexico had 827,269 persons receiving Medicaid, or 39% of the population and 223,116 persons receiving SNAP benefits, or 11% of the state’s population. Despite the enormous amount of federal spending, oil and natural gas riches, and some of the largest sovereign wealth funds in the world, New Mexico is considered to be the third poorest state in the nation.
DEATH SPIRAL: Several years ago, Forbes Magazine identified New Mexico as the #1 death spiral state in the country. New Mexico, with its vast public-sector work force, is on the hook for billions of dollars in defined benefit pension plan payments to retiring public employees. These defined benefit plans are so generous that private-sector businesses can no longer afford them and now offer 401(k) (defined contribution) plans instead. The public plans are woefully underfunded primarily because they assumed an unreasonably high expected annual rate of return of 7% to 8%. Assuming such high expected rates of return permitted pols to reduce annual contributions to the plans. Now, in addition to insufficient past contributions, there are not enough taxpayers to make up the funding shortfalls. New Mexico has a whopping 148 public-sector pension-takers for every 100 private-sector job-holders in the state. This is the largest imbalance of any state in the country and clearly unsustainable for the taxpayer.
STAGNATION: New Mexico and Arizona share much history. The New Mexico Territory became part of the United States after the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo. During the Civil War, the territory was divided into the New Mexico and Arizona Territories. As recently as 1930, Arizona’s population was just 12,000 larger than New Mexico’s (435,000 vs 423,000). But today, Arizona’s population is more than five million larger than New Mexico (7.3 million vs 2.1 million). Why did New Mexico, with its vast oil and natural gas wealth, experience such anemic population growth compared to Arizona?
In most parts of the country, population growth follows job growth. The most plausible explanation of what has happened is that 90 years of single-party Dem rule in New Mexico has created a state that is deemed business-unfriendly. When the private businesses did not come, neither did the people.
The state nickname for New Mexico is the Land of Enchantment. Sadly, after 90 years of single-party Democrat rule, it should probably be changed to the Land of Disenchantment.