This fall, the biggest issue on ballots across the nation was in Colorado where voters in the “blue” state overwhelmingly turned down politicians’ efforts to grow government. The vote was 56 to 44% to keep TABOR in effect. That vote is one reason why the AVERAGE Coloradoan makes a mind-boggling $17,000 per year MORE than the average New Mexican.
What is TABOR and why is it relevant to New Mexico? TABOR or (Taxpayers Bill of Rights) is the best single law on the books in any US state in terms of limiting government. It amended the Colorado Constitution to limit annual spending growth (at all levels of government) to the combined rate of inflation and population growth. Money above that needs to be returned to the taxpayers. There other aspects to TABOR including the requirement that a vote be taken ANY time politicians want a tax hike, but for New Mexico these days, with oil and gas revenues flowing into government coffers, it is worth discussing the limit on government revenues.
As can be seen below, when Gov. Martinez left office at the end of 2018 the State’s General Fund budget was $6.3 billion. This year the Legislature is expected to have approximately $8. billion. That’s an increase of nearly 27 percent in just two years.
As illustrated in the chart below, given New Mexico’s slow population growth during that time period and a modest inflation increase of 3 percent, New Mexico government will have grown by an incredible $1.648 billion IN REAL TERMS over just two years. We believe New Mexicans (like their counterparts in Colorado) deserve those refunds. How much are we talking about?
By our calculations, as seen below, every man, woman, and child in New Mexico should be given a $786.49 refund thanks (largely) to the oil and gas industry. For my family of 5, that would come to $3,932.45. Rather than pouring the money into wasteful government in the worst-run state in the nation, (Colorado is 6th-best BTW), New Mexicans deserve their money back!