Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Tax Cut Fervor Wanes In Santa Fe; New Speaker-To-Be Downplays Possibility, Plus: Driver's Licenses Forever And Our Bottom Lines 

The fervor for tax cutting as a means to stimulate the forlorn New Mexican economy has played itself out. And the messenger of that news is none other than the first Republican who will soon be the first House Speaker in 60 years--Rep. Don Tripp.

Both the Richardson and Martinez administrations have been ardent tax cutters with Richardson dramatically shaving the personal income tax and Martinez chopping away at the corporate tax rate. But in an interview with KKOB-AM radio Tripp signaled that tax cutting as the primary economic plank is played out:

I don't have any big agenda for tax cuts. I'd rather grow the economy.

In fact, it seems Tripp, a small business owner, is looking at a way to find new state revenues. Take a look:

When we think about Internet, we're losing more and more business. The state's revenues are down from Internet sales. It is all over the country so we're going to have to address that. . . because we don't want New Mexico to be in a bad position on that.

Does that mean that Santa Fe will look to extend the state's gross receipts tax on Internet sales as a way to keep state coffers flush and now that oil prices have crashed and threaten to deplete them?

Currently, if a store has a physical presence in the state Internet sales are subject to the gross receipts tax. But if the store has no presence here--like Amazon.com--the state does not collect the tax. Millions of potential tax dollars are at stake, but it's hard to see Gov. Martinez signing such legislation as she has constantly pledged no tax hikes. Still, that the conversation in Santa Fe has moved away from tax cuts as the be-all-end-all for economic development is not an insignificant moment. . .

It was during the final seconds of the 2013 legislative session when lawmakers rammed through a controversial corporate tax cut that over five years will take the rate from 7.6% to 5.9%. When asked about cutting that rate even further Tripp did not sound enthusiastic:

I think the jury is out it may have to go down a little but more to make us even more competitive. It was a move in the right direction. We're looking at the numbers. . . 

The numbers Santa Fe has to look at it is those for job creation because that's the premise on which the corporate cut was sold to the public. It took effect July 1, 2013 and so far there has been no evidence offered that it is attracting business and creating jobs. Supporters argue that we are now being more seriously considered because of the tax cut. . .

In that interview Tripp also talked candidly about the economic devastation in rural NM--he represents the Socorro area--and how those areas are in particular need of Santa Fe's attention. If you have  traveled recently through Raton, Cimarron, Belen and other small towns and cities, you won't disagree. It's like witnessing a second Great Depression. . .

What we are witnessing in the early GOP power positioning is the dividing line between the corporate Republicans and the the small business R's. Gov. Martinez is firmly in the corporate camp, believing tax cutting is the carrot that will lure them. She also benefits from their hefty campaign contributions to PACS in support of her. Tripp, on the other hand, collects few campaign contributions and caters to the small town R's whose livelihoods are not connected to corporate America. . .


Here we go again. Coming once again to a legislative chamber near you and with this twist in the background:

The fate of a little-noticed ballot measure in strongly Democratic Oregon serves as a warning to President Obama and his party about the political perils of immigration policy. Even as Oregon voters were legalizing recreational marijuana and expanding Democratic majorities in state government, they decided by a margin of 66-34 to cancel a new state law that would have provided driver's licenses to people who are in the United States illegally. Obama is considering acting on his own, as early as this week, to possibly shield from deportation up to 5 million immigrants now living illegally in the country. Some Republicans in Congress are threatening a government shutdown if the president follows through.

The R's--as they have for four years--are looking to repeal the NM law allowing undocumented  immigrants to get the licenses. A compromise floating would have them get permits to drive but not full fledged licenses that could be used for identification.


Strange things happen when it comes to the Feds. The WIPP radioactive waste cite nearly Carlsbad suffers a major accident, the place is shut down and now what? Well, look at this from Senators Udall and Heinrich:

In a letter to. . . the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, the senators urged them to provide an additional $113 million above 2014 funding levels to ensure ongoing recovery efforts are maintained and the facility can safely resume operation.

That's a whopper of a budget hike. Will there be opposition as the site shows no signs of reopening anytime soon?


The first thing that jumps out at you about the transition website for Attorney General-elect Hector Balderas is that there is a place for job seekers to submit their resumes. That ought to keep the site at the top of the rankings in job-starved New Mexico. . . Alligators of a wide variety urged then Gov. Richardson not to do a $60 million remodel of the famed basketball arena "The Pit" but to tear it down and build a brand new one. Now we know why:

The NCAA again slammed the door shut on the Pit’s bids to host NCAA Tournament games. The famous University of New Mexico arena has still yet to win such a bid since its $60 million renovation in 2010.

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