Was NM’s Budget Mess Inevitable?

I enjoy picking up The Alibi, particularly when Jerry Ortiz y Pino’s columns run. For starters, Ortiz y Pino provides a good window into the thoughts of New Mexico’s left-wing progressive/socialist community. In the past, it has also given me some nice fodder for letters to the editor. I was a bit disappointed in this week’s missive from the good Senator, however.

In his column, Ortiz y Pino simply resigns himself to the “unhappy compromise” that is the recently-passed budget. As a reminder, that budget included the following tax hikes which are estimated to raise the following amount of revenue:

$.75 cigarette tax hike: $31.3 million;
Reinstate part of the gross receipts tax on food: $70 million;
.25% increase in GRT: $60 million;
Eliminate an income tax deduction for taxpayers that itemize: $66 million;
Clarify that the compensating tax applies to most goods and services purchased by New Mexico businesses: $12 million next year.

So, why am I disappointed in Ortiz y Pino? Well, the left which supposedly stands up for the poor, willingly increased taxes on the poor in a regressive manner (cigarette taxes, the GRT, and the grocery tax are all regressive). I wish Ortiz y Pino had stuck up more for his beliefs or maybe admitted that they were wrong to spend $500+ million on the Rail Runner, $80 million annually in film subsidies, hundreds of millions on the Spaceport, and $36 million on a supercomputer.

Most of these spending items have little positive impact on the poor (or on New Mexico’s economy as a whole), but the left seems all too willing to go along with higher taxes on the poor. Who is the “progressive” now?