Non-profit

Rio Grande Foundation

Website:

riograndefoundation.org

Location:

Albuquerque, NM

Tax ID:

85-0468446

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $285,079
Expenses: $248,501
Assets: $118,184

Formation:

2000

Type:

Non-profit

President:

Paul Gessing

President's Salary:

$111,610[21]

The Rio Grande Foundation (RGF) is a nonpartisan public policy think tank that advocates for policies supporting a free market economy, individual liberties, and limited government in New Mexico. Its research areas include education, health care, energy and environment, and New Mexico’s economy. [1]

The Rio Grande Foundation is an affiliate member of the State Policy Network, a coalition of free-market state-level policy organizations. [2] While RGF is nonpartisan, its founder and a member of its board have affiliations with the Republican Party.

Activity

The Rio Grande Foundation is a nonpartisan public policy think tank that advocates for policies supporting a free market economy, individual freedom, and limited government intervention in New Mexico. The Foundation conducts research on education, health care, energy and environment, and New Mexico’s economy. [3]

The Rio Grande Foundation advocates for school choice policies including creating Education Savings Accounts (ESAs), implementing education tax credits, and reducing regulations in order to expand charter schools. [4] RGF has also argued that expanding pre-kindergarten programs in public schools would be costly and ineffective in improving student outcomes. [5]

In 2020, RGF joined a coalition of 38 organizations in signing an amicus brief in a case against the Department of Education, claiming that CARES Act funding was disproportionately allocated to public schools despite the Act’s equitable distribution requirement to fund both public and private schools. Other signatories included school choice and private school advocacy groups like EdChoice, School Choice Wisconsin, the Council for American Private Education, and the National Catholic Educational Association. [6]

The Rio Grande Foundation also advocates for Medicaid reform and claims that former Republican Governor Susana Martinez’s Medicaid expansion program caused New Mexico’s budget deficit and high unemployment rates. [7] RGF also opposes government-controlled health care policies, like the Affordable Care Act, and instead supports policies proposed by Roger Stark, a health care policy analyst at the Washington Policy Center. These ideas include reforming licensing laws, limiting tort claims, expanding association health plans, and promoting telemedicine. [8]

The Rio Grande Foundation advocates for the development of natural gas production on public land in New Mexico, claiming that a federal ban on hydraulic fracturing in the state would have “devastating impacts” on its economy and affect public education funding that largely comes from the state’s oil and gas industry. RGF also claims that energy produced by fracking in New Mexico plays an important role in reducing carbon dioxide emissions. RGF has recommended that the Biden administration support oil and gas production, especially that of natural gas, much in the way that the Obama administration did. [9]

The Rio Grande Foundation claims that New Mexico needs more economic freedom and points to high taxes, high state spending, and restrictive regulations as the main causes of the state’s high poverty levels. RGF advocates against New Mexico’s restrictive minimum wage, which is higher than that of neighboring states, claiming that a higher minimum wage has reduced employment opportunities. RGF also advocates for reducing the size of the state government, reforming public pensions, and allowing for privatization in order to make the state’s economy less dependent on the public sector. RGF also advocates for tax reforms that include eliminating the gross receipts tax and reducing the corporate income tax. [10]

The Rio Grande Foundation scores New Mexico legislators according to its Freedom Index. RGF analyzes legislation based on a scale of “the most liberty-depriving” to “the best of advancing freedom,” and then scores legislators based strictly on their voting records. [11]

Funding

The Rio Grande Foundation is funded by donations from individuals, corporations, and foundations. While RGF does not disclose its donors, tax filings indicate notable donations from Donors Capital Fund, [12] the Cato Institute, [13] and the State Policy Network. [14]

People

Staff

Paul Gessing works as president of the Rio Grande Foundation, sits on the board of the New Mexico Connections virtual charter school, and sits as a colleague of the State Policy Network. Gessing formerly served as the director of government affairs for the National Taxpayers Union. [15]

Patrick Brenner works as the vice president of development of RGF, as vice president of the Partnership for a Cancel Free America, as a member of America’s Future Foundation, and as a sentinel for Heritage Action for America. Brenner formerly served as a member of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. [16]

Katharine Stevens is a scholar at RGF, a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, and the founder of Teachers for Tomorrow. [17]

Kenneth Costello is a scholar at RGF and a contributor to the Foundation for Economic Freedom. Costello formerly worked for the National Regulatory Research Institute; the Illinois Commerce Commission; and the Argonne National Laboratory, a research center at the Department of Energy. [18]

Board Members

Hal Stratton founded the Rio Grande Foundation in 2000 and formerly served on its board. Stratton formerly served four terms as a Republican member of the New Mexico House of Representatives, as New Mexico Attorney General, and as Chair of the Consumer Product Safety Commission during the George W. Bush administration. Stratton is a policy fellow for the American Conservative Union Foundation and formerly served on the litigation board of the Mountain States Legal Foundation, the legal policy board of the Washington Legal Foundation, and the New Mexico state advisory committee of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. In 1981, the American Legislative Exchange Council named Stratton “Legislator of the Year.” [19]

David Hampton, a member of RGF’s board, ran as a Republican candidate for the New Mexico House of Representatives in 2020. [20]

References

  1. “Home.” Rio Grande Foundation, 2021. Accesed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/. ^
  2. “The Network: New Mexico.” State Policy Network, 2021. Accessed January 21, 2021. https://spn.org/directory/#NM. ^
  3. “Home.” Rio Grande Foundation, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/. ^
  4. Brenner, Patrick M. “School Choice Improves Educational Outcomes.” Rio Grande Foundation, January 19, 2013. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/school-choice-improves-educational-outcomes/. ^
  5. “Education.” Rio Grande Foundation, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/category/issues/education/. ^
  6. “Education.” Rio Grande Foundation, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/category/issues/education/. ^
  7. Gessing, Paul. “Medicaid Reform Can Save New Mexico.” Rio Grande Foundation, February 8, 2017. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/medicaid-reform-can-save-new-mexico/. ^
  8. Gessing, Paul. “New RGF brief: New Mexico has ample opportunities to reduce health care costs, improve quality.” Rio Grande Foundation, April 16, 2018. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/category/issues/health-care/. ^
  9. Gessing, Paul. “On energy policy Biden should take his cues from Obama.” Rio Grande Foundation, December 8, 2020. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/on-energy-policy-biden-should-take-his-cues-from-obama/. ^
  10. Brenner, Patrick M. “New Mexico Needs More Economic Freedom.” Rio Grande Foundation, December 8, 2020. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/new-mexico-needs-more-economic-freedom/. ^
  11. “Legislative Scorecard.” Rio Grande Foundation, 2021. Accessed February 1, 2021. https://riograndefoundation.org/legislative-scorecard/#/. ^
  12. Donors Capital Fund, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2010-2013, Schedule I, Part II. ^
  13. Cato Institute, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2006, Schedule I, Part II. ^
  14. State Policy Network, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2014, Schedule I, Part II. ^
  15. “Paul Gessing.” LinkedIn, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2021. https://www.linkedin.com/in/paul-gessing-193508/. ^
  16. “Patrick Monroe.” LinkedIn, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2021/ https://www.linkedin.com/in/pmbrenner91/. ^
  17. “Katharine B. Stevens.” American Enterprise Institute, 2021. Accessed January 25, 2021. https://www.aei.org/profile/katharine-b-stevens/. ^
  18. “Kenneth W. Costello.” Foundation for Economic Freedom. Accessed January 25, 2021. https://fee.org/people/kenneth-w-costello. ^
  19. “Hal Stratton.” The ACU Foundation. Accessed January 30, 2021. http://acufoundation.conservative.org/policy-fellows/hal-stratton/. ^
  20. “David Hampton (New Mexico).” Ballotpedia. Accessed January 25, 2021. https://ballotpedia.org/David_Hampton_(New_Mexico). ^
  21. Arkansas Policy Foundation, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990), 2018, Part VII, Section A, Line 1a. ^

Coalition Memberships

  1. State Policy Network (SPN)
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: September 1, 2000

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990 $285,079 $248,501 $118,184 $1,729 N $238,707 $46,312 $60 $108,355 PDF
    2016 Dec Form 990 $228,458 $248,565 $87,031 $7,153 N $213,306 $15,035 $117 $92,071
    2015 Dec Form 990 $264,636 $261,142 $111,127 $11,142 N $243,488 $21,085 $63 $93,951 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990 $275,575 $220,734 $103,044 $6,553 N $245,302 $30,243 $30 $93,834 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990 $215,317 $251,735 $45,547 $3,897 N $215,300 $0 $17 $91,317 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990 $404,829 $393,270 $78,068 $0 N $404,773 $0 $56 $91,167 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990 $363,912 $342,854 $66,934 $425 N $363,746 $0 $166 $85,402 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Rio Grande Foundation

    400 GOLD AVE SW STE 909
    Albuquerque, NM 87102-3247