Thursday, March 21, 2013

Just What's In That Monster Tax Bill Approved In Final, Frenzied Legislative Hour? Inquiring Minds Want To Know, Plus: Dem Chair Race Faces Big Weekend, And: Udall's Emails 

A number of readers ask: Where are the reports exploring exactly what is in that monster 35 page tax bill passed in the final amateur hour of the 2013 legislative session? Has anyone yet read the entire thing? Remember, a number of legislators voting on it complained that it was "rammed down their throat" but initial reports have given us only thumbnail sketches of what is in the measure and what it really means.

Will a close examination of the bill reveal hidden loopholes, gimmicks and giveaways? Past history says there's a chance it will. The bill was patched together in a last hour frenzy to avoid a confrontation with the Governor and a special legislative session. Supporters called it compromise. Others called it capitulation by the Dems.

The NM Tax Research Institute comes with the first neutral analysis of the major provisions of the bill which will be phased in over a number of years. It does not get into the matter of which companies or individuals would benefit most (The Legislature puts out a fiscal impact report on the bill here).

Even legislation that goes through the normal channels and has a full hearing by the House and Senate often comes up short. This gargantuan package may have more holes than Swiss cheese. Will some of it come back to haunt its supporters? Will future legislatures have to go back and redo much of it? Maybe on the first question, definitely on the second.

One thing has emerged from the smoke: In the years ahead the legislation could cost NM cities millions and force a tax increase on Mr. & Mrs. Average Taxpayer to make up the difference. Is that how we pay for the corporate income tax cut?

This and other questions are being pushed under the rug as the self-congratulatory political classes in Santa Fe herald a new era of "compromise." They even suggest what we witnessed in the last chaotic hour was "masterful legislating." That's like saying putting ketchup on fried eggs is gourmet cooking.

Let's see what they have to say when the rug is lifted.


Santa Fe is not alone in setting an example of why people get so turned off the political system. The Congress does it time and again--passes mammoth legislation that turns out to be riddled with favors for their buddies and their contributors. The only difference is the stories of this knavery trickle out in the following months via the national media. Here, publicity about the unsavory exchanges is held to a minimum.


Then there's the annoyance and boredom one must endure as Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith--a real estate appraiser from Deming--is touted as some kind of economic genius akin to Keynes. And then there is the bellowing over the blog by banished small town legislator Dan Foley and Sheriff-in-exile Darren White. "You see Joe, you and your Alligators don't understand the "complexity"of Santa Fe." (Is this where we start yawning?)


So much for the amusement, as for the recovery remedy offered for our beleaguered state, their recipe comes down to the same two words they've been offering since, well, since Cain slew Abel: Cut taxes.

The intellectual exhaustion on display is enough to inspire a meth head to take a nap. It's as clear as a pimple on a teenager's nose that the state's deep and systemic social conditions crisis--poor education, widespread poverty and the epidemic of social pathologies--is making our state increasingly unattractive in what has become a hyper-competitive environment for economic development. Taxes and tax cuts have little--very little--to do with it.

And then there's New Mexico's real job creator--the federal government--and its downsizing. Why is the Martinez administration and the Democratic Legislature so afraid to forcefully join the fight to protect what was built up here over 70 years?

Do they really think a mish-mash, maze-filled tax bill that would give Rube Goldberg fits in figuring out, is a comprehensive economic plan?


Supporters of Roxanne "Rocky" Lara for chair of the state Democratic Party argued that they created momentum when she had a good performance at the Dem meeting in Santa Fe County last weekend. But supporters of ABQ attorney Sam Bregman say that's an illusion. They argue that Bregman will put away the chairmanship battle this weekend when big Bernalillo County Dems meet.

Some 400 statewide delegates will meet at a Dem state central committee meeting in late April to crown the new chair.

Lara, an attorney and former Eddy County Commissioner, needs to hold down Bregman's total here to avoid having the race shut down. She has solid support in the south, but a Bregman blow-out in Bernalillo could make it hard for her to make up the difference.


Sen. Udall
Reader John McAndrew writes on his Facebook page of the early re-election efforts of Dem US Senator Tom Udall:

....Since the first of the year I've received so many e-mails from Udall's office, and now this mailed letter, all asking for money and more money, as if his re-election is seriously in doubt before he even has an opponent. In a country where incumbents are generally safe anyway, his must be among the safest of seats, so what gives? I'm thinking he has hired a new company to do fundraising for him. Hell, they even tried to sell old campaign tote bags as collectibles. Very weird. I like Tom, and interned for him in both ABQ and SF, and he almost always votes the way I like. This sudden Elmer Gantry gambit is unworthy of him.

Speaking of Udall, we don't think he could have been very happy that the White House invited Governor Martinez to be part of the US delegation to the new Pope's inaugural mass this week. That helps her with Hispanic Dems--especially in northern NM--a key area for Udall's re-election bid next year. Martinez is also seeking re-election next year.

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