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Sometimes my friends on the right get a little tiresome with the continuing litany that government is bad. That isn’t entirely true. Government does do some good stuff beyond the basic missions of education, health care, public safety and infrastructure.
Nor is it true that when government does something good, such as cut taxes, all is sweetness and light. Here I’m referring to the current argument from Paul Gessing of the Rio Grande Foundation that the Richardson tax cuts explain New Mexico’s climb in state per capita income ranks the past few years.
(Disclosure: A grant obtained by the Rio Grande Foundation paid for operating the now-defunct print version of Capital Report New Mexico in 2009 and 2010. I was editor and publisher of Capitol Report and appreciate the support.)
Nationally, I buy the argument that if taxes are cut, the economy grows and even more tax revenue results. For New Mexico, I don’t think it’s quite that simple.
To start, after three legislative sessions, according to analysis at the time from the Legislative Council Service and my arithmetic, Richardson raised taxes (or withdrew promises to lower them) by a cumulative tune $762 million. Tax cuts totaled $567.6 million, making Richardson’s overall tax record one of increases with a three-year $194.5 million total.
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