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They Went Ahead and Did It

It took three days of meetings behind closed doors for the Democratic leadership to make a monumental mistake and push through regressive tax increases on New Mexico’s working and non-working families:

The tax hike legislation included an increase in the statewide gross receipts tax, or sales tax, as well as a partial reimposition of the sales tax on food.

Members of the Republican minority harshly criticized the omnibus bill (SB10,12,13), arguing that the largest tax increase in recent history had been hatched without their input and that the tax changes should be considered separately.

The proposal would impose “a serious tax burden on New Mexico working families,” said Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Tucumcari.

House Speaker Ben Lujan, D-Santa Fe, said the tax increases were needed to avoid deep cuts to public schools in the 2011 budget year, which begins July 1. 

Of course, the Speaker’s excuse is total and complete nonsense. The tax increases pushed exclusively by the Democrats on everyday New Mexicans struggling to get through this economy that has left so many unemployed and struggling to pay for the basics, like FOOD, could not come at a worse time. More than half of the $200 million tax increases introduced are regressive in nature. Yet, we all know that almost an identical amount could have been easily cut from government:

The committee to improve government efficiency has delivered its final report to Gov. Bill Richardson, recommending cuts and consolidations that total $129 million.

The committee said there are too many state government employees. New Mexico has nearly 25 state employees for every 1,000 people. That ratio is higher than any state in the region and twice the national average.

So, please excuse us Mr. Speaker while we take umbrage with your attempt to pretend your putting our children first.  It is clear to everyone that patronage is the first priority of your caucus, and to heck with taxpaying New Mexicans.

Of course, you’ve got to love the irony of the fact that one Lujan expresses outrage at increases in healthcare premiums at the same time his father pushes tax increases on food for the same struggling families:

One New Mexico congressional representative expressed outrage at the increases in a statement.

“At a time when families throughout New Mexico are struggling to make ends meet, these rate increases are outrageous,” Rep. Ben Ray Luján, CD-3, said.

Maybe this family of politicians needs to caucus.