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Food tax is a bad idea

I am writing to respond to the recent article “Should NM cities, counties tax food?” The short answer is no, they should not. 

As the article notes, there is no way to tax food without harming low-income families. The Legislature’s own analysis, a 2017 study by Ernst and Young, found that the food tax would hit families making between $15,000-$39,000 a year three times harder than families earning more than $200,000.

Moreover, one of the core purposes of tax reform is to make New Mexico’s tax system more like the tax structures of other states. Taxing food would take New Mexico in a very different direction from the vast majority of states. Two-thirds of the states (34) do not impose a sales tax on groceries, including our neighbors in Arizona, Colorado, and Texas. The only states that continue to fully tax food at both the state and local level are Alabama and Mississippi.

When the food tax was repealed in 2004, city and county governments were held harmless for the reduction in revenue. In 2013, the legislature and governor reneged on that promise to hold local governments harmless. They phased out the hold harmless payments as part of a complex tax package that was sloppily thrown together in the final hours of the legislative session. 

A better approach than taxing food would be to restore the hold harmless payments to local governments. We are pleased that several legislators are working to pass a fix to the hold harmless payments this session – without taxing food.

Fred Nathan, Jr.

Executive Director 

Think New Mexico

Restrictive policies could hurt job growth

The Land of Enchantment’s job picture is very rosy, but employment growth is not a given. The truth is, we cannot take anything for granted, especially because of the new agenda we are seeing out of Santa Fe. 

The new governor, new regulators, and new legislators all are targeting the natural gas industry that the University of New Mexico Bureau of Business and Economic Research is sure will continue to create jobs. Regulators already have suspended a policy that would allow new wells. The governor, in her previous post in the Legislature, called for more regulation at both the state and federal levels. She also opposed moves to expand natural gas production. She’s made it clear she’ll do the same as governor.

Not only would these restrictionist policies impact the number of new jobs the economy will create over the coming years, they’ll hinder efforts to transition to cleaner energy.

Wind and solar aren’t yet plentiful enough to meet energy demand. Without natural gas? Well, then we’ll have to turn back to dirty coal. I know that’s not what policymakers want, but they do need to consider the unintended consequences of their actions.

Helen Guerra

Dexter

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