New Mexico drops several spots in ranking of business-friendly states

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The state of New Mexico has fallen to No. 42 in CNBC's annual list of the best and worst states for business.

That means the state is now in the bottom 10, dropping from 39 in 2016 and 24 in 2015.

"The once charmed economy in the Land of Enchantment has given way to despair over poor schools, red tape and cheap oil," writes the business news site.

Washington state moved into the top position in 2017 with Georgia, Minnesota, Texas and North Carolina rounding out the top five. Colorado, which ranks high in its skilled workforce and innovation, is No. 6.

West Virginia was listed as the worst state, with Hawaii, Mississippi, Alaska and Maine in the bottom five.

New Mexico has above-average scores in the cost of doing business category and for cost of living and infrastructure. It fell in areas such as education - the lowest ranking in the 10 categories - and in the strength of its overall economy.

The image CNBC uses on its data page for New Mexico is a person hiking at White Sands National Monument, again emphasizing that business friendliness is not just dollars and sense, but also quality of life.

Fiscal well-being list

Ironically, the CNBC list closely tracks another by the Mercatus Center at George Mason University that looks at the fiscal well-being of the 50 states. In that category, New Mexico is No. 41, with New Jersey at the bottom of the list and Florida at the top.

"On the basis of its fiscal solvency in five separate categories, New Mexico is ranked 41st among the U.S. states for its fiscal health," writes Mercatus. "On a short-run basis, New Mexico has between 1.46 and 2.41 times the cash needed to cover short-term obligations. Revenues exceed expenses by 4 percent ... total primary government debt is $2.9 billion, or 3.6 percent of state personal income, close to the average across the states."

National Park Service hikes prices for seniors

Kudos to the National Park Service, which is realizing that those who visit public lands also are the ones most interested in helping pay for upkeep and preservation, not members of Congress.

To that end, the agency is boosting the price of a lifetime senior pass to $80. The pass has been $10 and hasn't increased in 23 years. It provides entrance to 2,000 federal sites and parks nationwide, administered by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.

The increase takes effect Aug. 28, and those age 62 and older can purchase a pass before that date for $10 at park sites on the internet. But even at $80, the pass is the best recreation deal in the universe.

"The fee increase will support critical investments in maintenance projects at national parks and other federal recreational lands nationwide," said Bandelier National Monument Superintendent Jason Lott.

The National Park Service also is tightening procedures for issuing the pass and will now ask for proof of age and citizenship.

For more information, go to nps.gov/planyour­visit/passes.htm.

Contact Krasnow at brucek@sfnewmexican.­com. This story was first published in the Santa Fe New Mexican, a sister publication of The Taos News.

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