Federal funds unable to sustain subsidy of New Mexico economy
Federal dollars, along with the energy industry in southeastern New Mexico, have fueled the state's economy for decades. Besides Los Alamos, where the atomic bomb was developed, the state is home to Sandia National Laboratories, three Air Force bases, the Army's White Sands Missile Range and several national forests and parks. In all, according to a study by the Pew Charitable Trust's Fiscal Federalism Initiative, about 35 percent of New Mexico's economy comes from the federal government ? the highest such figure for any state.
But critics say an inability to diversify the economy has exacerbated income disparities. They say that at a time of tight federal budgets, the state can no longer afford to stake its economic future on government spending.
Unless New Mexico can attract new industries, workers will have to settle for whatever lower-paying government jobs are available or for low-wage work in the service industry, according to political leaders and experts on the state's economy.
"The rest of the nation is subsidizing New Mexico," said Jake Arnold, a political consultant and longtime New Mexican. "It's like the Third World. ... All these people are fighting over crumbs."
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