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As legislators prepare to face the $433 million monster in the closet, some folks have suggested a tax increase. They should take a lesson from New Mexico history.
In 1837, when New Mexico was still a part of Mexico, the central government appointed Albino Pérez as governor. Mexico had pretty much ignored New Mexico since freeing itself from Spain in 1821, and the New Mexicans resented this appointment, according to Don Bullis in his book, “New Mexico and Politicians of the Past.” Not only was Pérez not a New Mexican, he was the choice of the unpopular President Antonio López de Santa Anna, whose name will be forever tied to the Alamo in Texas. Gov. Pérez made things worse by snubbing Santa Fe’s prominent families.
Santa Anna had centralized control, so outlying political subdivisions like New Mexico had less control locally. New Mexico’s treasury was nearly empty; its only source of revenue was the tax on merchants arriving on the Santa Fe Trail.
One of Pérez’s tasks was to raise taxes, a measure as unpopular 172 years ago as it is today.
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