2023 New Mexico legislative session recap

With the legislative session a week behind us now, we at the Rio Grande Foundation have been reflecting on the outcomes of New Mexico’s 2023 Legislative Session.

Going into the 2023 legislative session, we at the Rio Grande Foundation had a few primary goals.

1)  Use the state’s massive $3.6 billion surplus to reform the “pyramiding” and business service taxation inherent in New Mexico’s gross receipts tax. Rep. Jason Harper has worked tirelessly on this needed reform. While it was not included in the final bill, we are grateful for the allies of the New Mexican taxpayer.

2)  Push for education reform to improve upon New Mexico’s abysmal 52nd position in the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP). While it did not pass, Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino’s bill to increase school choice options for low-income students gained traction in the Senate. We are delighted to support school choice legislation, and Sen. Ortiz y Pino’s bill indicates a bipartisan desire to increase opportunities for students in some of our worst performing districts.

3)  Restore “democracy” by placing some kind of limit on this and future governors’ emergency powers. Several bills were introduced by Rep. Greg Nibert and Sen. Greg Baca in their respective chambers but unfortunately failed in committee. The fight to pull in our elected officials continues, but we are thankful to have legislative champions like Nibert and Baca. The Foundation testified in support of restoring the Legislature’s powers in emergencies in this and previous sessions. 

The Foundation also worked to push the Legislature to address the impending electricity shortage which could hit New Mexico as soon as this summer, addressing the medical provider shortage, and helping to push back against bad bills.

While the results of the session could have been better for ideas of liberty and prosperity, thankfully, a number of bad ideas died in the session:

    • A new paid leave scheme (SB 11) would have resulted in tax increases borne by employees and employers alike. It fortunately died after passing the Senate. The Rio Grande Foundation testified in opposition and participated in a rally at the Roundhouse. 
    • Most big environmental schemes failed: SB 520 net zero, HB 426 clean fuel standard, and the HJR 4 “green amendment” all died.
    • Bills to ban plastic bags statewide were thwarted. This was a particular surprise. The Foundation testified on this issue and has opposed such bans in Albuquerque and other cities. We were pleasantly surprised by this outcome.;  
    • HB 25 and HB 28 which would have increased New Mexico’s minimum wage both failed. The Foundation also testified against these bills. 

Unfortunately, despite devastating NAEP test scores, the Legislature didn’t act in a fundamental way to improve the State’s failing K-12 system. And, despite the threat of electricity reliability issues nothing was done to keep the lights on.

But you can count on the Rio Grande Foundation to continue to bring attention to these two issues through our Opportunities for All Kids NM and Lights Out NM programs.  We remain committed to advocating for you.

How did your legislators vote on these and other issues? Check out the Foundation’s Freedom Index here.