New Mexico Legislature Seeks to Increase Spending and Cut Taxes | New Mexico News

By MORGAN LEE, Associated Press

SANTA FE, NM (AP) — Proposals to increase state spending and cut taxes edged closer to reality with crucial floor votes Monday in the New Mexico House and Senate, as lawmakers are setting priorities for an unprecedented deluge of state government revenue.

The state Senate voted 37 to 3 to approve an $8.48 billion general fund spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1, a 14% increase over spending for the year In progress.

Senate additions to the $150 million spending plan still require House approval or negotiation if disagreements persist. These changes increase spending for violence intervention programs, grants to support business expansion, hunger relief programs and more.

“We have an opportunity in New Mexico like we’ve never seen,” said Senate chief budget negotiator George Munoz of Gallup.

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The state is teeming with cash tied to soaring oil production and prices, and a windfall in federal pandemic aid, with no immediate end in sight. Revenue for the coming fiscal year is expected to exceed current annual spending obligations by $1.6 billion.

House lawmakers voted 59 to 9 in favor of a Democratic-sponsored tax relief package worth $385 million in its first year. Senate lawmakers are advancing their own tax cut proposal with many similarities.

The House proposal would eliminate Social Security income taxes for middle-income earners, give parents an annual credit or rebate of up to $175 per child, give a $1,000 credit to local hospital nurses at full-time and slightly reduce the state tax rate on gross receipts from retail sales and business services.

Other minor provisions would eliminate taxes on feminine hygiene products and incentivize the installation of home solar panels.

Democratic Rep. Christine Chandler of Los Alamos pointed out that the child tax credit and sales tax reduction apply to everyone and are not based on income levels. Social Security income would still be taxed for individuals earning more than $100,000 and joint taxpayers earning more than $150,000.

Republican lawmakers called the tax relief bill a missed opportunity to deliver even deeper tax relief of about $800 million, while foregoing Democrat-sponsored incentives for hydrogen production, loans to local venture capital firms, a new state government building, and sewage treatment facilities for Santa Claus. Fe Opera.

“Tax reform is always next year (because) we don’t have enough money,” said GOP state Rep. Larry Scott of Hobbs, calling for a complete end to income taxes of social security. “This year we have enough money.”

Also on Monday, the Senate gave its approval to help state prosecutors track and investigate unsolved reports of missing Native people from New Mexico.

The Senate’s 34-0 vote sent the bill to the State House for consideration. The initiative would create an electronic catalog of missing Indigenous people – many believed to have been murdered – for use by law enforcement and state prosecutors with the support of outside financial grants.

The bill also authorizes $1 million in spending by the state attorney general’s office to hire and train at least one specialist to investigate missing Native American cases.

Senator Shannon Pinto, a member of the Tohatchi Navajo tribe, said the bill was inspired by haunting cases of unsolved disappearances.

She cites the case of Anthonette Cayedito, who was last seen in April 1986 when she was 9 years old with freckles at her family’s home in Gallup.

“I hope there will be a closure before I reach my time here on this earth,” Pinto said.

Lawmakers are working around the clock during the frantic final days of an annual 30-day legislative session that ends at noon on Thursday. Major initiatives are still being considered regarding access to voting, climate regulation and changes to the criminal justice system.

Also on Monday, a Senate panel unanimously introduced a bill that would allow police to quickly obtain location data from suspects wearing ankle monitors. Supporters say police currently need to get a warrant when looking for someone suspected of a new crime.

The bill would remove the warrant requirement for GPS data dating back up to a year, and only if a new serious crime such as the murder or human trafficking of a child is suspected.

This version fixes the fact that Social Security income would still be taxed for people earning more than $100,000, not $75,000, and joint taxpayers earning more than $150,000, instead of $100,000.

Cedar Attanasio contributed reporting from Santa Fe. Attanasio is a member of the Associated Press/Report for America Statehouse News Initiative. Report for America is a nonprofit national service program that places reporters in local newsrooms to report on underreported issues.

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