We can’t cut our way to prosperity: A takedown of Gov. Martinez economics

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Nobody likes taxes. But some people understand the worth of taxes – and the consequences of the conservative ideological insistence on cutting and cutting and cutting taxes until critical services and programs must be scrapped – better than others.

The recent sessions of the New Mexico Legislature (both the regular and special) have had to grapple with Gov. Martinez and House Republicans’ laser-like focus of stripping money from the state coffers in favor of tax breaks to well-connected donors and big corporations.

Those tax breaks have failed to produce the promised jobs and contributed heavily to our state’s current financial crisis.

In an op-ed out today, Bill Jordan of New Mexico Voices for Children eviscerates the false “cut taxes and businesses will come” narrative peddled by Gov. Martinez and Republicans in the state legislature:

Our economy is sluggish primarily because the only economic development strategy we’ve followed is one of tax cuts for the well-connected. We’ve been trying and failing to “create” jobs this way for more than a decade. It’s well past time to give up on this failed strategy, roll back the tax cuts, and reinvest in the things that really do create jobs – human capital, public safety, and infrastructure.

What businesses actually want is a modern, educated workforce. To give that to them, we need a world-class education system. To get such a system, we must invest tax dollars into educating New Mexicans – something we’ve done the opposite of under Gov. Martinez, where education spending has never again achieved pre-Recession levels of funding.

An article from Governing this month says it best in its title: Nation’s Least-Funded Schools Get What They Pay For. Under-investments in schools lead to under-performing students. It’s that simple. The article goes on to show that New Mexico has cut its per-pupil spending by 6.6% since 2008.

The result is an under-funded education system that focuses too much time on standardized testing and not enough time on preparing New Mexico’s students for the jobs that could keep them in-state and begin to boost our economy.

We can’t cut our way to prosperity.

Jordan closes by offering words of warning to legislators and other leaders looking to continue the failed Kansas-style model of cutting taxes to try and prop up businesses:

While it’s easy to blame our economic and workforce problems on the workers, it’s simply not accurate. Tax breaks and spending cuts are what truly hold our economy back. We followed Kansas down the supply-side rabbit hole, but it’s finally figured it out and recently repealed many of its misguided tax cuts. New Mexico would be wise to do the same.

Read Bill Jordan’s full op-ed HERE.