New Mexico’s anti-donation clause is a great concept. Limiting the ability for private interests to derive special benefits from government is a nice idea, but when large numbers of people support giving tax dollars to private interests, the law will not be effective. In the case of New Mexico’s anti-donation clause it was intended to stop the government from giving undue benefits to the railroads (around the founding of the State), but the provision was amended to allow for “economic development” and it has been toothless ever since.
Now, in terms of the controversial use of $250,000 in Albuquerque tax dollars for asylum seekers who are being housed in the City, the Foundation was asked whether the anti-donation clause would prevent that. It is unlikely. You can read the entire clause here but the following critical provision is from the clause:
It is hard to envision any New Mexico court NOT considering immigrants to be “indigent.” There MAY be some issue around the idea of non-profits being funded for this purpose, but it is something that is done with provision of a variety of government services. It seems unlikely that a Court would invalidate this at this late date. All that being said, RGF’s expertise is the economic policies at play, NOT the legal ones.
You can click on the image below to find the KOAT Channel 7 story in which we make this argument. It is worth noting that RGF does not support diverting $250,000 tax dollars to these efforts especially considering that just over one year ago we were told that the City was in dire financial straits and the Council raised taxes.