By Alan M. Webber / Former Democratic Candidate for Governor
Whenever I hear what an unbelievable record Gov. Susana Martinez has of creating jobs in New Mexico, I have to shake my head in disbelief. Because those claims really are “unbelievable” – you simply cannot believe them.
It makes you wonder if there are two different places called New Mexico: Martinez’s fictional “New Mexico,” and the real New Mexico where people are out of work and falling behind because of her total failure to create jobs.
In her make-believe New Mexico, Martinez is a champion for small businesses because she once “guarded the parking lot at a bingo,” working for her parents’ security guard business. Then there’s the recent op-ed (“Governor has done much to diversify economy”) by Rep. Nate Gentry, telling us how Martinez “has encouraged growth in our private sector” – another political fantasy.
In the real New Mexico, what is her economic record? What are the facts versus Martinez’s fictions?
Here’s an irrefutable fact: Between April 2013 and April 2014, New Mexico under Martinez lost nearly 6,000 jobs. That’s right: lost jobs. It’s hard to lose jobs when the rest of the country is gaining them. You really have to be incompetent to shed jobs in the middle of an economic recovery. But somehow Martinez did it. She actually lost jobs.
One area hit hard by job loss is Rio Rancho. A recent study found that community’s economic base has shrunk by 30 percent due to cuts at Intel and HP. The people in Rio Rancho are still waiting for Martinez to respond with her diversified job creation strategy.
How is Martinez’s one big idea – using tax incentives to bribe big out-of-state corporations to relocate in New Mexico – actually doing? Are companies lining up to move here?
Not according to a recent Ball State University study that gave Martinez’s New Mexico a D- for manufacturing climate. That rating included an F in four out of nine categories used by site selection experts, including poor logistics and diversification. Perhaps that’s one reason New Mexico has suffered 18 consecutive months of manufacturing job losses. That’s right: Martinez has given New Mexico 18 consecutive months of manufacturing job losses.
Another study, published by Area Development magazine, a publication used by site selectors to pick where to invest, rated New Mexico’s largest cities near the bottom as places to grow a business or locate one. Among the 101 largest metro areas, Albuquerque ranks dead last. That’s right: dead last.
Expanding the field to 379 metro areas across the country, Santa Fe comes in at 350, Farmington at 354, and Las Cruces at 376. Martinez’s horrible performance is at least consistent: Her record is awful for all of New Mexico.
One more study completes the picture. Unlike the others, this analysis asked small business owners themselves to rank their experience in their own states. The results contradict both Martinez’s self-serving TV ads and Gentry’s make-believe column. According to New Mexico’s small business operators, Martinez’s efforts as governor earn her a D+ and a position near the bottom of the whole country: 30th out of 38 states ranked.
Why is New Mexico doing so poorly? Why is Martinez failing so miserably? One answer may be that she and her administration are simply in over their heads when it comes to job development. She’s a prosecutor, not an entrepreneur. She doesn’t know how to create jobs.
A second answer may be she’s too busy taking care of her own job to worry about jobs for New Mexicans. Martinez always seems to be someplace else – flying around America raising money for her campaign and running for vice president, her next job.
Here’s another fact: There’s no reason why New Mexico should be No. 50 in job growth in America. We have entrepreneurs and small-business owners waiting for a new governor who wants to work with them – for real. We have solar and renewable resources to create clean energy and good jobs. The opportunities are unlimited, the future is bright, the jobs are there hiding in plain sight.
Those jobs are waiting to happen in the real New Mexico, not Martinez’s make-believe version. If we want to put New Mexico back to work, we first need to put Martinez out of work. For real.