Spending Money I/We Don’t Have

Sorry I’ve been away for a week or so.  My obsessive touring bike purchase research has taken up all my non-teaching time.

Which is kind of a bummer, because while I’ve been only dreaming of spending money I don’t have (at least up to now), I don’t have time to follow the NM State Legislature blowing money on Peter while robbing anyone who likes tortillas.  At least that’s the way I understand it given my .02 seconds of following this stuff.

Speaking of following stuff, I never cease to be amazed by the tendency of news organizations, and other vendors of fact, to avoid the fun nitty-gritty of Capital Outlay.  While the various budgets are most important, there’s a still-healthy pile of millions proposed to be spent around the State on all kinds of funky stuff.

I spent some of our day celebrating the fact we have Presidents instead of Military Dictators trying to catch up on this, that and the other regarding the Capital Outlay front.  The most newsworthy thing I found isn’t about what might get spent, but about funds that are being unfunded (i.e., yanked) away from various projects around the state (although this yanking has only gone through the Senate, as I understand it).

As for the dreamy old, cash-rich days of calling/faxing/emailing Senator/Representative X and asking for Y amount of money…well that still goes on, as this list o’ proposed projects attests (Warning:  it’s a slow-loading .pdf)  My hat is off to those still willing to beg for money in these wintry economic times.

The audacity also gives us a chance to go through the request list and find our own personal porky favorites.  Always a tough competition, but just based on the headline length descriptors I’m a big fan of the following:

  • In Grants they want $1.1 million to expand the local cemetery.  A friend of mine was over in Grants the other day for the Mt. Taylor Quad.  He made it by the “New Mexico Mining Museum” and noted that for a museum covering an industry full of early deaths due to radiation poisoning, etc. they sure seem to be upbeat about uranium, uranium mining and the “good old days” of “acute kidney failure and death”.  Guess it’s time for a bigger cemetery.
  • I notice that Grants also wants $1.32M to improve its library.  Maybe they can get some books on uranium poisoning.
  • It is still very, VERY popular for politicians to propose expenditures toward improved senior centers.  The list of projects specifically around these centers takes up about 1/3 of all proposed.   Hmm…I wonder why…
  • $40,000 is requested “to plan a landscape beautification project for Bridge boulevard between the Rio Grande and old south Coors road in Albuquerque in Bernalillo County”.  I bike ride/drive this stretch quite a bit, and I can tell you it’s gonna take far more $40,000 to beautify this area.  At the same time, it’s one of my favorite stretches of roadway in Albuquerque, BECAUSE it’s so unbeautificated.
  • Several proposals are made for “smart labs” to be installed at various schools.  These are little science boondoggles sold by some high-pressure sales types to schools desperate for anything that will hook kids into science.   I have nothing against the science teachers/departments interested in such “smart labs”, but the problem is that once the interested teachers move on, or priorities shift, the “smart lab” become a relic.  And the ones I’ve personally seen seemed relics already, with outdated technology in abundance because schools have to keep spending big chunks of cash to keep up.  Hence the pushy salespeople.
  • Sandia Pueblo wants $2.4M to build a Rail Runner station.  Remind me  sometime to tell you what I now think of the Rail Runner.
  • Mora County wants $75,000 to “purchase and equip a skid steer for the solid waste department, including attachments, in Mora county.”  I love this because I have no idea what a “skid steer” is, and love the name being associated with solid waste.  I plan to do some online searching for “skid steer” immediately after publishing this little blogpost.  I also notice Ruidoso’s Solid Waste outfit wants some money for  a “grappler system”.  Man they have cool names in solid waste these days.
  • And, lastly, my personal favorite.  Carlsbad is looking for $70,000 to plan, design, construct, furnish, equip and purchase a building for the storage of boats used for “Christmas on the Pecos” in Carlsbad in Eddy County.”  This request combines violation of the separation of church and state with frivolity in wintry economic times and boats in a landlocked, arid New Mexico.  And how can one “plan, design, construct, furnish, equip and purchase a building” for $70,000?  You can’t do all that for a doghouse for less than $100,000 these days.  And why do they need to do all that “plan, design, construct, furnish, equip” stuff and still need to “purchase” the building.  Is it a separate building?  Are they trying to build something AND buy a separate building for $70,000?

Something tells me home prices in Carlsbad aren’t doing so well these days.  And neither is oil and gas, and I’m wondering how many, if any, of these wish lists items will get funded this session.  “Christmas on the Pecos” could be nothing but canoes and a leakproofed bathtub with oars for some time to come.


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