Sen. Sander Rue
SANTA FE – The New Mexico Association of Commerce and Industry (ACI), New Mexico’s statewide chamber of commerce and pro-business advocacy group, applauded New Mexico Sen. Sander Rue, R-23, and Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard, D-43, for introducing a bipartisan proposal to enhance the state Sunshine Portal by requiring that additional information on state contracts be available publicly through the portal.
“Countless New Mexico businesses have approached ACI about strengthening the process by which the state handles procurement and contracts,” ACI President/CEO Dr. Beverlee McClure said. “This bill adds transparency and accountability to the way New Mexicans’ tax dollars are spent—it’s good for taxpayers, good for business, and good for New Mexico.”
“This bill is as commonsense as it gets” said Sen. Rue, whose district includes most of Albuquerque’s West Side. “New Mexicans should know where their taxpayer dollars are going, and our proposal simply builds on the strong foundation of the Sunshine Portal so that information is available. There are many reasons to award a state contract—lower cost, better quality, or other benefits to the state. The problem is today, New Mexicans aren’t given any information as to how and why those decisions are made. This bill makes some very small changes to pull the curtain back. If we’re spending money outside of New Mexico, New Mexicans deserve to know how and why.”
Rue, himself a small businessman, worked closely with Garcia Richard and ACI members to develop the bill introduced Tuesday.
Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard
“I’m proud to partner with ACI on two distinct bills this year to strengthen New Mexico’s procurement process,” said Stephanie Garcia Richard, whose district includes Los Alamos, Sandoval, Rio Arriba and Santa Fe counties. “I’m working across the aisle with Senator Rue on this proposal because we can all agree that more accountability is good for everyone. New Mexicans work hard for their money: the government has a responsibility to the people to let them see clearly how that money is spent, and why.”
In 2014, ACI member businesses expressed concerns that New Mexico companies were not being given a fair chance to compete for state contracts. Through a series of public inquiries in 2014, ACI discovered that it is extremely difficult or impossible to access information on factors used in awarding state contracts, or even the percentage of State dollars spent with New Mexico businesses versus out-of-state companies. Research has shown substantial economic benefits to in-state procurement, as up to 60 percent of money spent in-state is reinvested in the local economy, benefiting other local businesses and spurring local job creation.
ACI has long held that in-state companies should not be given an unfair advantage at expense to taxpayers, but that the economic benefits of spending money in-state should be taken into account as a factor in procurement decisions.
“If all things are equal, they’re really not equal,” explained McClure. “If two companies bid to provide the same product or service at the same cost, the New Mexico company provides jobs and opportunities for New Mexicans, while the other company does not. But what ACI has found is that this information is all too frequently not taken into account, and there is not enough information available for taxpayers to see how their money is spent and why. Senator Rue and Representative Garcia Richard have introduced a strong proposal that corrects these problems.”
ACI is New Mexico’s statewide chamber of commerce and business advocate, representing hundreds of employers and thousands of employees statewide.