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Legislators are generous in passing tax incentives to bring new companies and jobs to the state. And that’s the problem. They have to be.
“If you’re in business in New Mexico and you’re paying taxes, come to the Legislature and get a tax credit,” said Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino, D-Albuquerque, during a debate on one particular credit. “Pretty soon nobody will be paying taxes.”
Said Sen. Steve Neville, R-Aztec, “If we don’t offer the tax credit, pretty soon we’ll have no businesses.”
Pass another credit, problem solved. But not really.
Increasingly, we’re forced to look at the bigger picture, which is painful. New Mexico’s byzantine tax system is a mess. And we’ve had three governors in a row whose idea of “tax reform” is a few illusory fixes because nobody has the stomach for real reform.
Before the session, in speech after speech, the governor made scary references to a study that placed New Mexico last in competitiveness. Last year Ernst & Young ranked states by tax burden on new investment. The study focused on location of manufacturing plants, research and development facilities, call centers, and corporate headquarters.
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