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Tax Increases Only Inevitable in Governor’s Mind

Governor Bill Richardson is all about raising taxes in the upcoming 2010 legislative session. In his mind, a tax increase is inevitable. But, thankfully sounder minds may prevail:

Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, the Finance Committee chairman, said many lawmakers from rural parts of the state — both Democratic and Republican — remain wary of raising taxes during tough economic times, despite the state’s budget deficit.

“There’s no guarantee there’s going to be revenue enhancements,” Smith said Thursday. “I just don’t see an overwhelming vote.”

Lawmakers already have reduced general fund spending by about $700 million, from $6 billion to about $5.3 billion, because of steady declines in state tax revenues. Some legislators say there’s room for more cuts in the state budget, which grew by 50 percent during Richardson’s first six years in office.

First, a word of advice to those that oppose tax increases. Let’s call them what they are – tax increases. The presumably poll tested and less offensive positioning of tax increases as “revenue enhancements” isn’t fooling anyone. The voting public in New Mexico is not as naive as some elected officials would like you to think. If you raise our taxes, we’ll know it. And, we’ll hold it against you. We get enough “enhancement” junk mail in our inboxes to know political spam when we hear it.

With that said, let’s talk about the resistance to cutting the bloated budget – a budget that increased 50% since the current administration took control. Exactly what has this recurring explosion in spending bought us?

  • Is your life better today than it was in 2002?
  • Are schools performing better than they were in 2002?
  • Do you feel safer in your homes today than in 2002?
  • Do you feel more optimistic about your future today than you did in 2002?

My guess is that the vast majority of New Mexicans would answer all of these questions with a resounding, “No!” So, let’s stop talking about tax increases and let’s get back to a time when life was enhanced and government was smaller. It would be a small step back to make a huge step forward.