Bruce King and tax policy: lessons learned

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By Sherry Robinson

With the passing of former Gov. Bruce King, a lot of us are recollecting our favorite King moments.

One of mine was his role in the Big Mac tax cut. It’s a lesson that’s relevant today.

In 1981, state coffers were bursting with oil and gas money. Euphoric lawmakers expected a $200 million surplus. Not only could they bankroll their pork projects, they could give money back to taxpayers.

But how to give back the public’s money? Liberals wanted to send money to the masses. Conservatives wanted to spread it around and shovel some cash to private industry in hopes of fueling expansion and jobs.

King, always middle of the road, wanted to bless everyone, especially small businesses, but rain less on big business. He and Colin McMillan, the Republican chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee, crafted a compromise bill dubbed the Big Mac.

Mid-session, Kay Marr, secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration, splashed cold water on their feverish plans. New Mexico could end up $100 million in the red if President Reagan’s promised tax and budget cuts materialized, she said.  

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