capitol reports

2021 Capitol Report, February 22

INTRO:

A key New Mexico State Senate Committee over the weekend approved a bill that would phase-in an increase in the tax you pay at the pump.

Tom Trowbridge reports from the Roundhouse:

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((Script)):

Taos Democrat Roberto “Bobby” Gonzales’ Senate Bill 168 would hike New Mexico’s gasoline excise tax and the special- fuel excise-tax by five cents a gallon over a five-year period—or a penny-per-gallon-per-year, starting in July.

Tax hikes are never popular. And given the economic toll taken by the COVID-19 pandemic, opponents argue now is especially not the time. Gonzales countered that argument Saturday before the Senate Tax, Business and Transportation Committee:

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The Legislative Finance Committee estimates the fully-phased-in tax would boost the state road fund by more than 63-million dollars a year. During debate on the bill, another transportation-tax related issue arose. It had to do with relatively recent New Mexico history when in 2003, lawmakers passed then-Governor Bill Richardson’s GRIP—or investment partnership. It led to helping fund the New Mexico Rail Runner Commuter Train and the New Mexico Spaceport. Republicans such as Craig Brandt from Rio Rancho remember… and not fondly:

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Regardless, the bill passed the Committee on a seven-to-four, party-line vote.

For the New Mexico News Network, I’m Tom Trowbridge

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