Intestinal Fortitude

  • Post published:February 4, 2016
  • Post category:Issues

Anyone who follows NMBC knows that encouraging voters to expect integrity, fair elections, transparency and greater accountability from public officials on how tax dollars are spent, is nothing new. But some in the community, including numerous media outlets, seemed surprised by our position. While we noticed too that NMBC stood apart from other business groups during the recent tax increase election, we’re not surprised.

Taking a stand for what is right over what is popular; working for the good of all over what is profitable to a handful of supporters — takes courage, character, independence and intestinal fortitude. NMBC is honored to be the only business group in NM ‘called out’ for standing by these values. This much should be clear by now: NMBC works to improve the quality of life for all New Mexicans, and we are proud of it.

The New Mexico House of Representatives Rock! Committee Chairs are doing a fantastic job of respecting peoples’ time. Committee meetings generally start on time and bills on the schedule are heard. When time is short, which it always is, the House Chairs do whatever they can to accommodate testimony. They frequently allow people to testify and then roll the bill over for discussion by committee members, if necessary. What a breath of fresh air.

HJR 10, Permanent Funds for Early Childhood, CA (Reps Maestas and Martinez) failed to get the votes to pass out of House Government Elections and Indian Affairs Committee. We applaud the conviction of some representatives to stop the war on our children’s future education.

No New Taxes? Not Quite: We hear all the time: ‘Taxes have been cut…we’re not going to raise taxes.’ Fact is employers were hit with the worst tax increase in years at the beginning of 2015 when the new Unemployment Insurance (UI) rates went into effect. It’s been extremely painful for many employers, causing some to close their doors and others to not expand employment or fill vacant positions. Couple that with significant increases in some fees required to conduct business, increased gross receipts and property taxes and it’s clear New Mexicans have indeed seen taxes increased in the last few years.

NMBC worked hard during the 2015 Legislative Session on a bill that would have provided employers with some relief on UI taxes. Some legislators opposed the measure, however, and it died on the House floor. This year, another bill that would temporarily address portions of UI taxes is up for consideration.

HB283, Unemployment Compensation Contribution Rates, Rep Larranaga, would temporarily reduce the contribution rate of certain employers based on the employer’s experience history and temporarily cap the percentage increase in an employer’s year-to-year contribution and excess claims rates.

All Tax Bills Created Equally? There are many options for increased taxes being offered this session and myriad bills that would provide more exemptions. Are all tax increases bad and all tax exemptions good? Absolutely not. Each bill must be analyzed in context of what’s best for all New Mexicans – not special interest groups, partisan agendas or unnecessary government growth.

The NMBC stopped supporting tax exemptions and special tax modeling years ago in favor of rewriting a bad tax code. Our ‘Swiss cheese’ tax code, with over 300 loopholes and exemptions fits the description of ‘picking winners and losers.’ That’s why NMBC favors a complete, simplified rewrite. On the topic of increased revenue, NMBC does not have a blanket policy on supporting or opposing tax increases. We encourage legislators to take the same approach.

Many New Mexicans seem happy to go to the polls and increase or maintain local taxes (like mill levy taxes) that easily pass in county and municipal bond elections. But legislators are charged with carefully reviewing the statewide impact of new taxes with consideration given to how tax revenue is (or should be) disbursed for government programs and services. Maintenance of our roads, for example, affects not only each citizen’s daily travel, but also impacts transportation infrastructure needed for economic viability and job creation.

SB 251, Increasing the Gasoline Tax and the Special Fuel Excise Tax by Five Cents, Sen John Arthur Smith, proposes increasing the gas tax at a time when gas is cheaper than we’ve seen in years. When you consider the jobs that would created providing needed maintenance and repairs of our state’s highways with improved transportation infrastructure to support economic development, SB 251 deserves careful consideration.