Take ACTION now (repost) from someone involved in the legislative session:
Governor Martinez has indicated she will veto the state budget because it relies on tax increases to stay balanced, a condition she argues is in conflict with New Mexican values. We need to let her know New Mexicans value education, public safety, health care, young children, our quality of life and all the other things we will lose if she vetoes this spending plan and insists on a new spending plan within available revenues. In fact, we value those more than the marginal increase in taxes we will have to pay to keep them.
Martinez has argued that New Mexico should learn to live within its means but this argument is short-sighted on many levels. New Mexico is a state with a high-need population; we have high unemployment, high poverty, high crime, low educational attainment. We will never overcome these problems without an investment in our people. We can’t invest in our future if we are cutting education, cutting child protective services, cutting, cutting, cutting.
Further, New Mexico cannot attract new businesses or help local businesses grow without a higher quality of life. Yes, business owners like low taxes but they also like good schools, skilled workers, and safe streets. The business owners and their families live here, too.
Finally, New Mexico’s tax structure is grossly out of whack. It’s too reliant on the volatile oil and gas industry and the gross receipts tax has become a swiss cheese mess of credits and exemptions, forcing fewer taxpayers to pay more to keep revenues level. New Mexico needs tax reform and this will inevitably lead to some taxes going up while some come down. Worthy of note, as much as business owners like low taxes, they like a tax system that makes sense and is fair.
New Mexico government has been in financial-crisis mode for two years but Martinez keeps sticking her head in the sand and insisting revenues are better than they are, more than once calling for a one-time fix that doesn’t address our long-term need or our tax-structure issues and draws the risk of losing our credit rating – making future capital investment more expensive.
Among other changes, the $350 million tax package that makes the $6.1 billion proposed budget possible calls for a slight increase on the gasoline tax, extraordinarily low in New Mexico and unchanged for decades; the extension of the gross receipts tax to Internet sales, which would level the playing field for brick-and-mortar businesses in New Mexico; an expansion of the tax on hospitals that many hospitals support; and a two-year delay – not elimination – of a five-year phase-in of a corporate income tax.
Martinez has until April 7 to act on legislation, including the budget bill and tax package. She even has the ability to veto just part of the tax package and leave enough intact to support the spare but adequate budget plan.
We must tell the governor and those who support who no-tax myopia that New Mexicans value, more than dollars, our children, our environment, our rich cultural heritage, and our future.