At a press conference late last week, a group of nearly twenty progressive New Mexico legislators released their budget balancing proposal. Among the most notable components of the proposal is a roll-back in personal income tax cuts (including those for capital gains) that were enacted in 2003. The group also proposed higher income taxes targeted specifically at upper-income New Mexicans (defined as earning roughly $150,000 - $200,000 or more) and enacting combined reporting. The group is also pushing for the state to take steps to apply the sales tax to additional purchases made over the Internet. Finally, the proposal included familiar calls for higher taxes on cigarettes and soft drinks.
While Governor Bill Richardson has laudably acknowledged that the state must raise taxes to close its budget shortfall, he has so far fought efforts to roll back the tax cuts he enacted in 2003. He has also opposed efforts to impose higher taxes on upper-income New Mexicans, or to take additional steps to tax purchases made over the Internet.
But rather than put forth a plan of his own, the Governor has expressed an interest in letting the legislature work out the details of a potential increase in state taxes. This fact should hearten those progressive lawmakers who have proposed exactly the type of bold, progressive reforms New Mexico needs to overcome its current budgetary shortfalls. Ideas like those advocated by this group of legislators should not be kept off the table.