Posts Tagged ‘tax increase’

Tax Food Then Light

Thursday, March 18th, 2010

The unemployment situation in New Mexico continues to grow bleaker in New Mexico with the latest job cut announcement:

About 700 employees are expected to be out of work starting in two weeks. That means more people out of work in a town that’s already suffering from a high unemployment rate. The city’s unemployment rate is sitting at 8.9 percent as of January of this year.

Yet, in the spirit of the Sheriff of Nottingham, the Democrats in the legislature pushed a food tax increase on the unemployed and our Democratic Governor is poised to sign it. As if that wasn’t bad enough, now they are going to make it even harder for struggling families to keep the lights on, and for those poor souls with electric stoves, cooking their newly taxed meals will also come at a premium:

In general, the state would set greenhouse gas emission caps based on its reduction goals. Companies would be allowed to exceed state-set emissions caps by buying “allowances” from others that reduce their emissions more than required.
        

Critics argue that a cap-and-trade program will drive up the cost of electricity and other fossil fuel energy sources, and say they make no sense at the state level.
        

The Environment Department announcement this week was accompanied by a lengthy and highly technical “white paper” on the program and solicitation for public comment regarding the basis for the cap, distribution allowances and rate of cap reduction.
        

It did not address potential costs or economic impact. 

 Well, let me help fill the void and address the potential cost and economic impact.  It will cost those already struggling to get by even more money.  See, when you raise the cost of energy source providers, they pass those costs onto consumers of energy. What makes this particular “hidden tax” increase so abhorrent is that it is an end run around the legislature. 


We already know that the Democrats holding the legislature hostage have no problem raising taxes on struggling working families and the unemployed, but even they had the sense to avoid passing the nonsensical statewide cap and trade tax that has been introduced in the last few sessions. Yet, the Governor and his minions are once again showing a lack of respect for our legislative process and adopting a dictatorial decree (AKA regulatory law making) approach to increasing taxes.

The thing is… the people have had just about enough of this.

It’s A Good Question

Thursday, March 11th, 2010

I mentioned in a previous blog post that I heard Lt. Governor Diane Denish on the campaign trail saying, “Now is not the time to raise taxes.”  All too often politicians say one thing on the campaign trail and do an entirely different thing when they are elected to the office for which they are campaigning.

Looks like we don’t even have to wait to elect the Lt. Governor to see her live up to that long tradition of saying one thing and doing another.  Consider this from a recent press release by GOP candidate for Governor Susana Martinez:

Denish initially claimed to oppose an “across-the-board tax on all food.” That sounded to me like a cleverly-worded statement that left the door open to a “partial” tax increase on “certain” foods (like maybe tortillas, for example, as was proposed during the regular session). So in January,  [http://cts.vresp.com/c/?SusanaMartinezforGov/b794e4993b/c534fc8f02/dc0b33a94e] I called on her to clarify.

Her response? Silence.

Sure enough, as the “partial” reinstatement of the food tax was flying though the legislature and she was presiding over the state Senate, she did nothing.

And just last week, Denish was acting Governor… As acting Governor, she even signed legislation.

So, that raises this question: If Denish is so opposed to the food tax, and she was acting Governor, why didn’t she take the opportunity to show real leadership and VETO the food tax increase?

It’s a good question.

Taxpayers Paying to Advocate More Taxes

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

I’ve noted in the past that the problem with state created “Authority” entities is that they are nothing more than a license to tax without accountability:


Here comes the bad part. When elected government officials raise taxes, we at least have an opportunity to vote them out of office the next election cycle. The same is not true for government created Authorities. These folks are appointed, not elected, so the taxpayer has no recourse whatsoever.

It basically boils down to “Taxation without Representation.” The last time that got out of control there was a revolution in this country.

The Rio Grande Foundation points out one more reason to fight against the creation of Authority entities:

Now, enclosed in your most recent water bill from the government-controlled Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority, “customers” of the authority are receiving the following notices alerting them to the 1/4 cent transportation tax on the ballot with language that clearly endorses the tax. Check out both sides of the insert below:

Nothing like making taxpayers pay to promote additional taxes on taxpayers. Angry and want to take it out on someone? Well, you can’t take it out on the folks running the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Authority because the state conveniently set it up so that these people are appointed and not elected to this fee increasing non-accountable entity.

But, don’t bottle up that anger. Redirect it toward something useful. Vote one of the biggest proponents of this tax increase out of office – Mayor Marty Chavez. You know, the guy who has been trying for years to force this tax increase on the public in order to build his trolley on Central.

In fact, Mayor Marty Chavez is on the Governing Board of the organization, which means he approved this misuse of funds. Make no mistake, a water authority spending your money to push a transportation tax to build a trolley is a misuse funds. Just another example of politics as usual from Mayor Marty.

Doomed to Repeat History

Friday, September 18th, 2009

Let’s see if I’ve got this straight. Ten years ago a transportation tax increase was pushed by former Mayor Jim Baca. The idea was to raise money to improve the city’s transportation infrastructure. It was a hard sell at the time, but one of the “selling points” was that it was a “temporary” tax increase with a ten year sunset provision.

At the time of the increase, an editorial took issue with the fact that a temporary tax would be pushed to fund what is usually considered one of the few justifiable roles of local government:

Keeping the city’s streets and intersections in good repair isn’t a special project for a special tax; it is one of the most basic of city services. If City Hall had been doing its job (for many years before Mayor Baca came into office), street maintenance would already be getting done from the existing revenue sources Bregman and Brasher propose to harness.

About six years after the tax increase was passed, an audit found that the money was being mismanaged by Mayor Martin Chavez’s administration:

After nearly six years, a quarter-cent tax for transportation has not caused an increase in the passenger service provided by the city bus system, a new audit says.

The tax has provided $28 million for the Transit Department, and $21 million should have been used for enhancing bus service under a policy approved by the City Council, the audit says.

However, the Transit Department “is not currently complying with this expenditure requirement, because the amount of passenger service being provided is currently at approximately the same level as existed prior to Transit receiving these quarter-cent tax funds,” says the report from the city Office of Internal Audit and Investigations.

Then, in 2006, Mayor Marty Chavez and some City Councilors try to sneak a tax extension in while folks were focused on the Election Day at hand:

November 6th, 2006… the day before the election where Democrats took over both the House and Senate, the Albuquerque City Council passed an extension to the Transportation Infrastructure Tax. The Council and the Almighty Alcalde used the cover of the election to rail road the public and shove a tax hike through for the primary purpose of building Marty’s little train.

The move outraged the public and a huge political brouhaha ensued. Months later bowing to public pressure, the council pulled the extension and created a marketing, uh… “task force” to sell, uh… “study” the trolley. All of that took place almost exactly two years ago.

Well, very few people were buying what Mayor Marty was selling, namely the need to build a very expensive trolley system down Central. Oh sure, the Mayor tried everything he could think of to convince folks it was a good idea. He even paid consultants to sell the idea:


Now, there are a couple of points that really ought to jump out at you. First and most obvious is that the only way this can be funded is by extending a tax on everyone that was supposed to expire.

The next eyebrow raising fact requires a little basic math. Keep in mind that the Albuquerque Metro Area population is up to around 800,000, and is expected to reach a million before long. Yet, this Streetcar is only going to be used by about 5,000 people. Put another way… 99.5% of the people are expected to pay hundreds of millions of dollars (these things never come in on budget – think train), so 0.5% of the population can ride a streetcar instead of taking the bus.

Mind you, whether you call it a streetcar or a trolley, or a light rail system, the reality is that we already have an economical way for the public to travel, and it’s called the bus. If the Mayor and City Council really wanted to improve public transportation they would just increase bus routes. It’s cheaper and heck of lot more flexible to deal with changing population centers in a growing city.

Oh, I know. No one wants to ride a bus right? Wrong!

Even with gas prices plummeting from a July high of $4 per gallon to the current price of $1.84 per gallon — the lowest gas prices have been since 2004 — bus ridership in the Duke City is still up from this time last year.

So, where does this bring us? Well, the Mayor and the City Council want us to turn what was originally promised as a temporary 10 year tax increase into a permanent tax increase:


Albuquerque city councilors are scrambling to reassure voters that a proposed $37 million-a-year transportation tax won’t last forever.


Council President Isaac Benton and Councilor Ken Sanchez held a news conference Thursday and said they plan to introduce a resolution at Monday’s council meeting clarifying that the quarter-cent gross receipts tax, which will be on the Oct. 6 ballot, will expire after 10 years.

The tax was first approved in a special election in 1999 and is up for renewal this year because of a 10-year sunset clause in the original ballot question.

But the ballot question councilors approved for the extension this year does not include an expiration date, meaning the tax could continue indefinitely.

We’re supposed to forget that the Mayor has been pushing this tax increase for three years to build a trolley and believe it is for trails and roads. We’re also supposed to forget that they once promised to make it temporary. What is it they say about history repeating itself?

Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it

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Now, you may be tempted to argue that this isn’t really an accurate example of history repeating itself. After all, the first time, voters were asked to approve a tax increase that had a sunset provision. This time the voters are being asked to extend the same tax increase without a sunset provision, and believe it will only last ten years. Even more ridiculous is that we’re supposed to believe the sunset provision was left out “accidentally” by our elected officials.

Election Cycle 2010 is in Full Swing

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

When it comes to political campaigning, it is often said that no one is really paying attention until after Labor Day. Of course, what they are talking about is the Labor Day preceding that year’s November election (i.e. Labor Day 2009 and Election Day 2009).

However, we now have undeniable evidence that our election cycles have been greatly expanded. This year’s election day marked the official start not of Election Cycle 2009, but of Election Cycle 2010. Last night was the first debate of the Democratic Lt. Governor candidates of 2010. I know I keep repeating the year, but I just can’t get over it. Seriously, it’s not like these folks are running for President of the United States. They’re running for a position that really doesn’t do much other than collect a salary and break the occasional tie vote:

This money fits in well with the theme in a cable television ad from the state GOP last week lambasting [Lt. Governor Diane] Denish for casting tie-breaking votes on a bill to expand the hours of operations for nontribal casinos in the state while taking tens of thousands of dollars from gambling interests. The ads refer to statements Denish made prior to being elected that gambling was bad for the economy. The ad calls Denish’s votes “a pay-to-play jackpot.”

What’s even more bizarre than a Lt. Governor race getting media attention fourteen months before the election? The fact that the six candidates think that campaigning for raising taxes in tough economic times is a solid campaign strategy:

Several Democratic candidates for lieutenant governor who attended a forum Wednesday at the NEA building on Botulph Road said they’d like to repeal state personal income tax cuts for upper-income bracket taxpayers — a plan pushed at the outset of Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson’s administration.

That’s right, the state has gone an unrivaled spending spree over the last seven years, and rather than cut waste, these folks want to take more out of our pockets. Of course, some of the folks running for the relatively high-paying low stress job, are the same legislators that approved these massive budget-breaking spending sprees, so I guess its CYA time.

Now, in case you’re thinking this expanded election season is limited to the Lt. Governor race, think again. It looks like the Secretary of State office is also kicking it into gear for Election Cycle 2010:

Attention candidates and potential candidates of any party: The Secretary of State’s Office is hosting “candidacy seminars” at the Roundhouse next week in an effort to teach budding politicians the basics of filing for public office and convey some general understanding of election laws and regulations.

The free three-hour workshops — scheduled for 9 a.m. or 1:30 p.m. Wednesday — will cover such topics as opening a campaign account, campaign finance reporting laws, withdrawal dates, hardship exceptions for online reporting, financial disclosure requirements, in-kind contributions, etc.

Wow, I wonder just how many people are going to show up for this? Now, don’t get me wrong, people running for state offices have always started toying with the idea this early. It’s not uncommon for them to put out feelers to check for support levels. But, this is way beyond that. This is full official campaign mode at a very early time. I guess on the upside if the Secretary of State asks budding candidates to sign in, a simple records requests will make it clear, which seats are in play for 2010.

Why is This so Hard to Understand?

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

I was vehemently opposed to regional cap and trade legislation introduced this past session because it would put New Mexico at an economic disadvantage and drive one of the cornerstones of our economy, the oil and gas industry, to other states while accomplishing nothing to deal with the global warming obsession that has been so heartily embraced by the left.

Quite honestly, rushing through national cap and trade legislation during a time of economic crisis would be equally foolish. Heck, for that matter, rushing through any far-reaching legislation on the federal level during any kind of crisis sets a bad precedent. So, my hat is off to Senator Jeff Bingaman:

Bingaman, who has worked for years to pass climate change legislation, joined Republicans for last week’s vote because he did not want to short-circuit the deliberation needed to come up with a workable bill, spokeswoman Jude McCartin said.

The rules being considered would have allowed climate change legislation to be folded into the Senate’s consideration of the federal budget, which allows limited debate and requires 51 votes for passage.

There are those who believe the world is warming on and on the road to an impending doom (I’m not one of them), but at least cooler heads have prevailed in the Senate.

The Only Thing Worse

Tuesday, March 10th, 2009

The only thing worse than raising taxes on income during times of a severe recession – bordering on depression – would be raising taxes on taxes. That’s right, you read that correctly. There is actually a bill being pushed through this legislative session that proposes raising taxes on taxes:

SB523: Federal Income Deductions as State Income (Tax on Tax) sponsored by Sen. Otiz y Pino. This bill will require individual income taxpayers who itemize deductions on their federal return to add back any state and local taxes included in their itemized deductions in determining taxable income for the state income tax. Basically requiring taxpayers to pay a tax on tax.

Good to see the nice folks up in Santa Fe looking out for us.

Polling Half the Tax Increase

Friday, March 6th, 2009

Wow, I’m amazed. Unemployment in New Mexico continues to rise and and the nation’s unemployment numbers for February are the worse we’ve seen in 25 years:

The U.S. economy continued to hemorrhage jobs in February, bringing total job losses over the last six months to more than 3.3 million, and taking the unemployment rate to its highest level in 25 years.

The government reported Friday that employers slashed 651,000 jobs in February, down from a revised loss of 655,000 jobs in January. December’s loss was also revised higher to a loss of 681,000 jobs, a 59-year high for losses in one month.

Yet, the Albuquerque Journal has an article on a poll with the headline, Poll Shows Support for School Tax. For the life of me, I can’t imagine who in their right mind would want two tax increase under these circumstances:

Proponents of a proposed new public school funding formula hope that results from a new poll will breathe life back into legislation stalled in a House committee.

The poll, conducted this week, found that 59 percent of registered voters surveyed statewide support a gross-receipts tax increase to pay for the new formula. The formula would add about $360 million to school budgets.

Amazing, a majority of registered voters surveyed support two tax increases. Wait a minute. Let me look at that again. Hmm, something’s not right. Oh, I see.

Voters weren’t asked about a proposed increase in personal income taxes, which is another component of the house bill.

Nice. A poll that only asks about one part of the proposed tax increases. Isn’t that convenient. Funny how they didn’t think to poll whether folks would support increasing personal income taxes on everyone in the state of New Mexico earning under $8 an hour.

What’s even more interesting is the actual breakdown of those strongly supporting this half truth:

Of those polled, 23 percent strongly oppose the measure while 13 percent somewhat oppose it. Strongly supporting it were 36 percent, and somewhat supporting it were 23 percent.

Now that’s interesting… only 36% strongly support it. I wonder how many of those somewhat supporting would drop if you asked them how they felt about the tax increase if they knew it was only part of the equation? I wonder how many of those somewhat supporting the gross receipts tax increase would still support it if you helped them do the math, and pointed out that the tax increase proposed would increase the percentage they pay in taxes by more than 10%.

If I were legislator considering this bill, I wouldn’t let this polling change my mind. When it come time for re-election, you can be sure that the facts around this tax release will be presented in a lot more factual light. The 36% that strongly support it may still vote for you, but last I checked, that wasn’t even close to a majority.

Education Budget Doubled Over 12 Years

Tuesday, March 3rd, 2009

An interesting thing happened yesterday up at the legislature. HB346: Gross Receipts Surtax Bill received a do pass:

As a reminder, this bill proposes the gross receipt tax rate (GRT) be increased by .5%. In addition the bill also proposes an increase in the personal income tax rate (PIT). The PIT would increase in tax year 2010 from 4.9 percent to 6 percent for married persons filing jointly with taxable income of at least $24,000 and for single persons with taxable income of at least $16,000. The additional revenue would be earmarked for public education.

That’s right this one bill raises not one, but two taxes – a double whammy. And, before you folks jump in and say it’s about time rich people invest in education, please review just who is getting hit with higher taxes right now.

The PIT is being raised on folks making $16,000 per year or more. That comes out to an hourly rate of less than $7.75. Of course, these same people are going to be hit with higher gross receipts taxes if this bill goes through. Talk about hitting people when they’re down.

But hey, it’s for the children, right? Yeah, think again. Let’s look at education spending over the last dozen years (subscription):

Among those speaking against the measures was Terri Cole, president and CEO of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce.

Cole said the proposed funding formula doesn’t contain enough accountability. She said the amount the state spends on public education has doubled over the past 12 years to $2.4 billion, yet the dropout rate remains high. She noted that the number of students has, for the most part, remained flat during that time.

Actually, Ms. Cole is being kind by only focusing on the dropout rate. Not only has dropout rate remained high during this period of huge infusions of capital, the actual performance of students overall has gotten worse:

More evidence was provided recently b the findings of the American Legislative Exchange Council, the limited government-oriented national legislative umbrella organization based in Washington, DC.

That organization’s recent study, the 15th edition of their “Report Card on American Education,” shows that New Mexico’s K-12 government-run education system is not only behind other states, but is falling further behind as time passes. According to the New Mexico-specific pages of the study which can be found here, The Land of Enchantment has fallen from 43rd to 48th since 1998 in ALEC’s overall ranking. This, despite a more rapid increase in per-pupil spending than was found in other states (42% to 36.6%).

Of course, I left the best part for last. The rationale for introducing these increased regressive taxes on the poorest amongst us is to fund a new public school funding formula to help make up for a supposed underfunding for schools. The thing is that the new funding formula bill got tabled. This has spurred speculation that the new INCREASE YOUR TAXES BILL will be amended to remove the language to use the revenue for education and instead be used as a revenue generator the budget.

Yeah, that’s just what we need during a time of economic crisis – more taxes.

Middle Class Income Cap Continues to Drop

Saturday, November 1st, 2008

I love it when I’m right. If you watch me on KOB-TV’s Eye on New Mexico tomorrow morning at 10:00 a.m., one of the topics you’ll here me discuss is the rapidly declining middle class income cap. In order to stir the fires of class warfare, Senator Barack Obama first indicated that he would only be increasing taxes on those making over $250,000 per year in order to “redistribute wealth.”

In his 30 minute Barackomercial, he dropped that number down to $200,000. His running mate, Senator Joe Biden, has moved that cap even lower to $150,000, and now campaign surrogate, Governor Bill Richardson, has it pegged at $120,000 per year.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G88ebXY2uaI]

Think about this for a minute. We’re still in the campaign phase, and on a daily basis the Obama campaign is increasing the number of people who will see their life savings redistributed.

Mark my words, if Obama is elected, it won’t be long before that number is lowered to $100,000. To put that in perspective, consider that if you have a household with two experience teachers or police officers or firefighters, they will probably be earning over a $100,000 a year. Obama and his friends want to see their “wealth” redistributed.