Continuing their unblemished record of arguing for more taxes, bigger government, and less freedom, the latest piece from a former UNM Law School professor attempts to make the case for a higher gas tax.
There are so many reasons against raising the gas tax, but here are several:
- New Mexico is in the middle of historic budget surpluses with general fund spending (thanks to record oil production) booming from $6.3 billion to nearly $8.0 billion over a two year time period. That’s a 27% increase. There is plenty of money available to build and repair roads, especially in Southeast New Mexico where roads have been impacted by the incredible oil and gas growth.
- New Mexico JUST increased taxes with a significant portion of that tax hike ($52 million annually) going to roads starting this year.
- New Mexico should stop wasting $30+million annually on operating the Rail Runner. Ridership on the train is vanishingly small and wastes money that could otherwise be used for road maintenance. To keep spending money on this boondoggle while also calling for higher taxes is ridiculous.
- Gas taxes are “regressive.” Not only do the poor allocated a greater percentage of their incomes to paying such taxes, but low-income folks also drive older, less fuel efficient cars.
- Finally, although the current political situation in Santa Fe is unlikely to result in needed reform of New Mexico’s labor laws, the fact is that reforming the State’s Davis-Bacon “prevailing wage” law could result in cost reductions for a variety of transportation projects including roads (and schools). A 2017 fiscal analysis from the Legislature found that legislation that would simply have reduced the impact of New Mexico’s law would have saved New Mexico’s Department of Transportation between $20 million to $22 million annually based on 2017-2018 active construction projects.
New Mexico government is already bloated and the State is considered the worst run in the entire nation. Rather than just handing more money over to Santa Fe, it is time we expect a little better management of our tax dollars.
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