Funding “sufficiency” or shared burden at Spaceport America

As we have noted time and time again, New Mexico’s Spaceport has never lived up to expectations (it will have been open for 11 years this October). And, while the Legislature has generally accepted the continued failure of the promised manned space tourism industry to “take off,” hearings occasionally shed light on the topic.

In this story KOB Channel 4 cites Spaceport personnel claiming that 65% of the Spaceport’s operating expenses are generated by leases and customers. The same article notes that the “Legislature provided about $2 million in general fund dollar.”

So, in addition to the $250 million taxpayers fronted to build the facility, it continues to cost taxpayers millions more to operate annually. And (news flash) it’s not going to be “self sufficient” anytime soon.

And that brings us to Sen. Joe Cervantes’ wish that taxpayers statewide help pay down construction bonds on the white elephant near Truth or Consequences. A regional gross receipts tax, approved in 2009 is levied in Sierra County, but a vast majority of the funding comes from Doña Ana County. According to the New Mexican, “Half of the estimated $250 million investment in the facility came from the Legislature, and the other half is being covered by the (local) gross receipts tax.”

Cervantes took to Twitter to (aptly) compare funding of the two Bill Richardson-era projects the Spaceport and Rail Runner (both of which the Rio Grande Foundation has long-criticized as wasteful boondoggles).