Is this the dumbest state Legislature in the country?

This is a pop quiz. You will first be asked to identify the state. After identifying the state, you will be asked to vote on whether the state’s legislature is the dumbest in the United States. Place your hand or a piece of paper over the bottom portion of your screen to prevent peeking at the answer. Here goes.

No state in the United States has had single-party political rule at the state level longer than this state. The ruling party has held a majority in both houses of the state legislature for 81 of the last 91 years (thus eliminating Nebraska).  The last time the minority party held a majority on the state supreme court was in the 1920’s.

The state has the worst ranked K-12 public education system in the country. It has 7 state universities that grant four-year degrees but only one is ranked academically in the top 500 in the U.S. (#484). It is estimated that an astounding 46% of the adults in the state are functional illiterates.

This state is ranked as having the highest property crime rate and the second highest violent crime rate in the country. It has the 5th highest unemployment rate in the country and an incredible 43% of the population is on Medicaid. It is ranked as the 5th worst-run state in the country.

The state is blessed or cursed with vast oil and natural gas deposits. The fracking revolution has caused an explosion of production of these deposits and a tax revenue windfall for the state. In recent years, 30% to 40% of the entire state’s budget has come from the oil and natural gas industries. Nonetheless, 80% of the state’s congressional delegation is opposed to fracking.


Fracking rig (photo credit: Loadmaster, CC BY-SA 3.0 license).

Despite the tax bonanza from the oil and gas industry, two state legislators have introduced a bill to ban new fracking permits in the state for four years.  In response, the legislative finance committee has issued a fiscal impact report describing what would happen to the state's revenues if the fracking ban were instituted.  The following is the estimated minimum impact in millions of dollars.

General Fund

Oil & Gas School Tax (includes reserve distributions)

Oil & Gas Conservation Tax

Natural Gas Processors Tax

Gross Receipts Tax

Federal Mineral Leasing (Royalties & Bonuses)

State Land Office Bonuses

Personal Income Tax

Total General Fund

 

Severance Tax Bonding Fund (Severance & Tax)

General Obligation Bonding Capacity

 

Land Grant Permanent Fund (SLO Royalties)

 

TOTAL STATE REVENUES

 

Local Governments

Gross Receipts Tax

Ad Valorem Taxes

Total Local Government

 

TOTAL REVENUE CHANGE

FY22

$(145.8)

$(7.8)

$(1.4)

$(284.7)

$(106.5)

$(15.0)

$(138.2)

$(699.2)

 

$(170.8)

$(18.1)

 

$(536.5)

 

$(1,424.6)

 

 

$(172.2)

$(54.1)

$(228.3)

 

$(1,650.9)

FY23

$(251.4)

$(13.2)

$0.0

$(582.4)

$(271.1)

$(15.0)

$(140.9)

$1274.1)

 

$(292.6)

$   -

 

$(717.4)

 

$(2,284.2)

 

 

$(352.4)

$(110.6)

$(462.8)

 

$(2,747.0)

FY24

$(323.0)

$(16.9)

$ 0.0

$(682.7)

$(375.0)

$(15.0)

$(143.7)

$(1556.2)

 

$(374.5)

$(46.9)

 

$(852.8)

 

$(2,830.5)

 

 

$(412.8)

$(148.5)

$(561.3)

 

$(3,391.8)

FY25

$(385.3)

$(20.1)

$ 0.0

$(759.2)

$(458.4)

$(15.0)

$(146.6)

$(1784.6)

 

$(445.7)

$   -

 

$(895.8)

 

$(3,126.1)

 

 

$(459.0)

$(181.1)

$(640.1)

 

$3,766.2)

 

 

The report also notes that production from newly fracked wells peaks within the first three months of completion and rapidly declines over the next two years.  After 12 months, it is estimated that oil and natural gas production would decline by 40% and 22%.  By June of 2025, it is estimated that oil production would be 70% below current levels and natural gas 45% below current levels.

Despite the compelling evidence of the financial devastation that the bill would cause, the bill has reported out of committee.

What state am I?  (Theme music from final Jeopardy.)

The answer is NEW MEXICO (of course)!

Cites: fiscal impact reportsingle party control of state legislatureilliteracy rate of 46%; #1 in property crime and #2 in violent crime per capitaworst public schools in the countryonly one of 7 public universities ranked in top 500 (#484)43% of the state is on Medicaid5th highest  state unemployment rate and ranked as the 5th worst run state in the country (up from last place).

Is the New Mexico Legislature the dumbest in the United States?  If it passes this anti-fracking bill wiping out 30% of its tax base, it sure is.  You can vote by telephone or by email with the sponsors of the bill.  I'm certain that they would be delighted to hear from the readers of the American Thinker!