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Columns

  • More about tax reform

    The underlying theme of the 2012 legislative session was taxes, specifically the issue of tax reform. Gov. Martinez put the gross receipts tax on the agenda with her proposals to both exempt certain small businesses from the tax and to reduce the incidence of “pyramiding” which forces businesses and consumers to pay taxes on top of taxes in this state. $40 million of welcome tax relief was included in the budget, but issues remain.
    Senate Finance Committee Chair John Arthur-Smith made a dramatic point with the introduction of legislation that would have eliminated New Mexico’s gross receipts tax entirely.

  • That’s right. You’re wrong

    During lunch, two of my students were arguing the issue of taxation.  Their stances took the usual form; the rich already pay more than their fair share, the rich make money off the backs of the lower class, capitalism was founded on the principle of self-gain, greed is destroying this country, etc., etc., etc..

  • Dueling with unloaded guns

    A creative headline writer described the employment packages offered by Democrats and Republicans as “Dueling Job-Growth Plans.”
    To have a duel, the guns must be loaded. That’s one little detail Senate Dems forgot.
    In a news conference, they trotted out SB 9, yet another stab in Sen. Peter Wirth’s long campaign for combined tax reporting, which employers say would cost jobs; SB 74, from Sen. Steve Fischmann, who has an untarnished track record for being clueless on economic issues; and Senate Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, whose SB 140 is unworkable.

  • Talking the Rail Runner

    Sen. George Muñoz, D-Gallup, poses a good question about the New Mexico Rail Runner Express with his Senate Bill 247.
    But like nearly all Democrats and a good many Republicans, he missed the point. He only asks who should pay for the Rail Runner’s losses, all New Mexicans or just some, not whether it should continue.
    The bill provides “a dedicated funding source for the operation and maintenance costs of heavy rail mass transit systems that fairly imposes these costs on the locales and persons that are primarily served.”
    Government has things to do. But what things? At what level of government? Is there benefit to people supposedly served by the government activity?

  • Working on PRC reform

    SANTA FE --  Amid legislative-executive turf battles, a few islands of bipartisan cooperation have surfaced. The most noticeable collaboration concerns the reform of the Public Regulation Commission. Everyone is working together on that item.
    As of this writing, the term “everyone” is not an exaggeration. A package of three constitutional amendments presented by the bipartisan think tank Think New Mexico has unanimously passed the House, including its committee referrals. The measures have the support of Gov. Susana Martinez and will be carried in the Senate by leaders of both parties.

  • Tax tips to help small businesses

    Long hours and hard work comes with owning a small business. Few entrepreneurs would have it any other way. It’s the price they pay to live their American dream.
    But not everyone welcomes overtime and extra effort to get the job done. The IRS, National Taxpayer Advocate Nina Olson reported to Congress recently, is suffering “workload overload,” chiefly due to the increasing complexity and frequent changes in the U.S. tax code. Between 2001 and 2010, the revenue rulebook was revised 4,430 times—an average of more than once a day.

  • Contrarian thinking to legislature

    There’s an old saying that no one is safe when the Legislature is in session.
    Most of us wouldn’t argue about whether a lawmaking body is needed; the pace of change in modern society dictates that laws must be added and updated regularly. But the glib little saying is a sharp reminder that there’s always a risk. A legislator once commented to me that the Legislature spends 90 percent of its time correcting its previous mistakes.
    A couple of arguments about our New Mexico legislative process arise year after year, especially during the crowded 30-day sessions.  

  • EPA protection a big win for U.S.

    On Dec. 21, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released the first-ever federal protections reducing toxic pollutants, primarily mercury, produced by power plants.
     This is a major victory for all Americans, and one for which the Sierra Club and other environmental organizations have been fighting for years.  An assessment of mercury was required by the Clean Air Act amendments of 1990; so it has taken over 20 years to implement the law.

  • Loss of ideas weakens nation

     Innovation is the pride and lifeblood of our democracy.
     Innovation in technical systems is vital and thriving. Innovation is equally essential in political life, but is lost in the rubble of skeletal debate for voter loyalties.   
     Our nation sorely needs ways to develop ideas in the public forum.
    The forum today treats an idea as a political hoax from the disloyal. So they all get axed, lest any idea should spread. The prevalent contempt for ideas shuts out your own fondest idea as surely as it stops all others.
    Political innovation molders in the mission of talk wars.
    Nothing needs fresh ideas more than the problems that last far longer than reelection cycles. The regulatory process is large among them.

  • Finding some perspective

    Perspective is a tough commodity to find when considering New Mexico’s economic performance in comparison to other states. The coming study of New Mexico as a place for investment will give us a good idea of our fit for a narrowly defined case.
    Yet the broadest possible perspective is the necessary basis for thoughtful policy decisions. Fortunately, the Metro Denver Economic Development Corp. does excellent work comparing Colorado to other states and the nation. We can be a free rider, as they say in economics.
    Our riding starts with “Resource Rich Colorado,” issued in December to describe “Colorado’s National and Global Position in the Energy Economy.” Find the report at www.metrodenver.org/news-center/publications.html.