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?

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5 Replies to “Was NM’s Budget Mess Inevitable?”

  1. A nice job of obfuscation, Paul. The money spent on the capital projects you note (railrunner, spaceport and supercomputer) comes from a different source (severance tax or general obligation bonds, not operational money)and in a different year (three years ago when we were flush…not this year when we aren’t) so there was never a way to trade off expenditures we’d already made for budget needs in the coming year. But it makes good propaganda fodder. You ought to mention that by including the closing of the income tax deduction loophole we were able to make the entire package far less regressive than it was originally. Jerry

    1. Yes, capital projects are funded differently, but those bonds are paid with taxes that in turn slow economic growth. Also, the RailRunner and supercomputer cost money to maintain and operate. For the RailRunner, that is $20 million or so annually.

      Yes, eliminating the income tax deduction makes the tax hike package less regressive by simply making the total tax hike package bigger.

  2. Does our new budget reflect a government that is right-sized to deliver core services and not discourage capital investment? A certain amount of taxes is of course indispensable to carry on essential government services. The goal is to create a government that is organized around the core services needed to protect the life, liberty, and property of its citizenry. Government spenders, such as Sen. Pino, forget (or know very well) that they are taking the money from A (the taxpayer) in order to pay it to B (Rail Runner, Spaceport, and the supercomputer). I ask, “Are these taxpayer subsidized projects such as the Rail Runner, Spaceport, and supercomputer “essential government services?”

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