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Your fine editorial on tax increment financing (Does Not Seem Like A Good Deal To Us, Sunday, March 1) did not go nearly far enough.
It’s time to “connect the dots,” something which Common Cause N.M. has done for us in a 2007 report on the success of the real estate development industry in obtaining public subsidies from the state. (Google Common Cause N.M. and then click on “connect the dots research.”)
This success is intimately related to that industry’s enormous campaign contributions. In 2006, these contributions were rewarded by the very badly written Tax Increment for Development Act, the piece of legislation which facilitates the type of ‘development’ that you discussed in your editorial.
Every year bills are introduced in the legislature that would limit such campaign contributions. And every year the legislature stalls and raises bogus objections. The Senate Rules Committee, in particular, has turned into a political brick wall this year. To date, not one major ethics reform bill has been able to break through that wall, including campaign finance limits as well as proposals to create an independent state ethics commission and to require lobbyist disclosure.
The senate leadership is transparent in its disdain for ethics reform, as anyone who has sat through a Rules Committee meeting can attest. The time has come for them to let these bills loose from the clutches of this committee and push them toward a vote on the Senate floor. However, this will not happen unless both editorial writers like you and the citizens of New Mexico in general make it clear that business as usual will no longer be tolerated.