Tax increases may be inevitable

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE ­— Government efficiency is currently the major focus in Santa Fe. Maybe it was the stern warning from legislative leaders that tax hikes are not inevitable as Gov. Bill Richardson has suggested.

The spotlight on tax increases certainly will return as the Budget Balancing Task Force makes its report to the governor.

But, for now, the talk is about how state government can save money by eliminating waste. The Legislative Finance Committee and state Auditor Hector Balderas are working to find instances of questionable spending. Lt. Gov. Diane Denish has established a Governmental Efficiency Hotline to receive phoned-in suggestions.

And now Gov. Richardson has appointed a Committee on Government Efficiency to analyze potential savings through streamlining, consolidating and eliminating areas of wasteful spending.

The governor’s independent blue-ribbon committee is as blue as they come. It is headed by former Gov. Garrey Carruthers, a vice president at New Mexico State University, who has pitched in to help Gov. Richardson on other top issues.

The eight-member committee is stocked with the best brains in state government, present and past. Katherine Miller, cabinet secretary of the Department of Finance and Administration provides a tie-in to the current administration.

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