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Paying for the Governor’s Follies

It was bound to happen. New Mexico has “enjoyed” a Governor who likes to spend, spend and then spend a little more. Governor Bill Richardson has given us expensive trains that hardly anyone takes and spaceports that no one uses all on the public dime. Time and time again we were assured that this was not going to take away funds from other transportation projects. Well, it looks like the bill has arrive (subscription):

Increasing New Mexico’s 17-cent gasoline tax by 6 percent a year— or about 1.3 cents a year for the first decade— could go a long way toward building and repairing the state’s roadways, leaders of a highway construction task force said Thursday.

Rep. Patricia Lundstrom, D-Gallup, and state Transportation Commission Chairman Johnny Cope head up a group looking for ways to pump extra money into the state’s financially troubled highway construction programs. They both said they like the idea of automatically raising the gasoline tax each year.

Each additional penny to the tax would generate roughly $6.8 million a year for spending on state roads.

A second revenue-raising idea has also caught their fancy, the task force leaders said: a new state fee of an undetermined amount on vehicles based on weight.

Have these folks lost their mind? They’ve allowed the state budget to almost double over the last few years, and now they want to bring in more money by increasing taxes and fees. How much more money do they need?