By Matt Grubs, NMiF Producer
Eager to a) bask in the warm glow of job creation, b) let voters know that they’re eager to bask in the warm glow of job creation and c) actually address a problem that is first and foremost in the minds of the people they represent, Senate Democrats have put together a package of 11 bills dubbed The HIRE Initiative. In addition to having a certain Robert Ludlum-y je ne sais quoi The HIRE Initiative stands for Helping Incentivize Real Employment.
From the outset, it’s clear Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez wants voters to know Democrats can spur private job creation just as well as Republicans can. Here’s a minute of his brief introduction to HIRE.
In other words, we’ll show you some love and you can show us some love. Which of course dovetails nicely with our title track by Steve Winwood. He tried this whole HIRE love thing about 25 years ago and hasn’t needed a job since. (Although, he probably didn’t need a job long before then as evidenced by his 17-year-old awesomeness for The Spencer Davis Group. That’s him singing. He’s 17!)
Worth noting here is that Senator Sanchez mentions Senate Dems don’t yet have a caucus position on what’s being dropped in this package. There were some heavy hitters at the table with Sanchez, including President Pro Tem Tim Jennings, Majority Whip Mary Jane Garcia, Chair of the Corporations and Transportation Committee Phil Griego, and Finance Committee Vice Chair Carlos Cisneros. Upstarts Tim Keller, Steve Fischmann and John Sapien are carrying bills, too. Noticeably absent were Finance Chair John Arthur Smith – and any Republicans. This is a D thing for now and until it gets to the House where Rs hold a little more sway.
The package goes after many areas mentioned by Governor Susana Martinez in her State of the State address last week, including “pyramiding” gross receipts tax. Pyramiding happens when something gets taxed for a business, which then incorporates it into a final product which is taxed yet again. Senator Steve Fischmann – a former Levi Strauss exec – explains his bill.
He also gives a little love to Governor Martinez, who was in Albuquerque Monday touting her anti-pyramiding plans and a gross receipts tax cut for certain small businesses, among other things. Again, one thing worth noting is that Fischmann’s bill doubles the Martinez plan. That sounds great, but it also needs to be paid for by cuts somewhere or tax gains somewhere else (referenced by Senator Fischmann).
Tim Keller got in on the act, as he seems rather adept at doing, leading the press conference once Sanchez stepped away and advancing the cause for a bill he’s carrying that offers businesses a $5,000 tax credit for hiring graduates of New Mexico universities. As Keller points out, New Mexico is still trying to wean itself off government support and advance manufacturing and high-tech, private sector jobs.
Trailing Keller were a group of graduate students supporting his bill. Katie Richardson, president of the Graduate and Professional Student Association, points out that students are graduating with a tremendous debt load. For a PhD such as Richardson’s, the average student will amass $45,000 in loans by the time they are awarded their advanced degree. And, the Chronicle of Higher Education notes that number doesn’t include debt from getting an undergraduate degree. Richardson and others worry about a student brain drain as advanced degree holders look to start paying down that debt any way they can once they graduate. The GPSA says that while 75 percent of advanced degree graduates would like to stay in New Mexico, just 40 percent do. Matthew Rush – who is in a much better position – adds context.
It’s just one story among many, but those emerging from higher education and entering the work force could use HIRE love just like so many who are anxious to work but short one very important tool: a job. Both Democrats and Republicans will do well to deliver.