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Chamber of commerce unveils growth agenda

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The New Mexico Senate convenes at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe on Thursday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The New Mexico Senate convenes at the Roundhouse in Santa Fe on Thursday. (Adolphe Pierre-Louis/Journal)

The Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce board of directors has voted to support a legislative agenda for the current session with a goal of removing “every roadblock to economic growth and job creation as fast as we can.”

The chamber, in what it calls its Accelerating Job Growth Agenda, said last year’s changes in corporate income taxation helped New Mexico compete with other states to attract new businesses and expand existing businesses.

“However, the work to create a much more vibrant and growing private sector is far from complete,” the agenda says. “Continued bipartisan cooperation is vital, even in an election year when the temptation for politics to override policy is tantalizingly irresistible.”

“New Mexico has 38,000 fewer jobs today than when the recession started,” said board Chairwoman Elizabeth Shipley, a government affairs manager with Intel Corp. “We need a strong bipartisan effort at the Legislature to move New Mexico ahead.”

The chamber said it supports many financial proposals advanced by Gov. Susana Martinez’s administration and the Legislative Finance Committee, including:

  • A 1.5 percent pay increase for all state employees and teachers, “but not at the expense of under-funding education reform and economic development.”
  • Funding for major infrastructure projects. The agenda argues that capital outlay expenditures should be “evaluated and prioritized according to objective criteria and critical need. Determination of the use of capital outlay funds should be done in a strategic manner in order to meet critical needs throughout the state.”
  • Dedicating 60 percent of capital outlay funds for water infrastructure projects.
  • Creating a $15 million closing fund and making job-training grants for businesses a permanent line item in the Economic Development Department budget.

The chamber supports the confirmation of Hanna Skandera as secretary of education. Skandera was nominated for the post when Martinez assumed office in 2011, but the Senate has yet to confirm her.

The chamber also supports LFC proposals to fund early childhood education, pilot projects that will reward highly effective teachers and efforts to improve student performance. It backs administration proposals to fund endowments for New Mexico’s institutions of higher learning.

Several proposals to amend the state constitution have been introduced this session, and the chamber opposes them, including an amendment that would establish a state minimum wage and adjust it regularly for inflation.

The agenda says the chamber opposes any general fund tax increase, the reinstatement of gross receipts taxes on the sale of food, and any use of permanent fund dollars “not currently specified in the constitution or at distribution rates that would undermine the long-term solvency of these funds.”

“The permanent funds were designed to support the beneficiaries established in our constitution and serve as an endowment should our extractive minerals disappear some day,” the agenda says.

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