Tax hike only temporary solution

By Keith Gardner: Guest columnist

The day many of us warned of is now here.

New Mexico’s budget deficit has risen to somewhere around the $650 million mark. This problem was not just caused by the shrinking economy and the declining state revenue that followed — it was also caused by state government overspending.

Between 2003 and 2009, our state government spending increased by nearly 53 percent and the number of budgeted state employees grew by 27 percent.

Meanwhile, during that same time frame, the population in New Mexico increased by only 6 percent.

I oppose and will continue to oppose government growth that outstrips either our population growth or the rate of inflation.

Last week the majority of the House of Representatives passed a budget with a $310 million deficit. Even worse, the majority of the House also voted to increase taxes by more than $300 million to make up the deficit.

Raising taxes is not the solution.

It is unfair to all of us to raise taxes. Tax hikes would only offer momentary relief to the state treasury. Businesses and individuals that have to pay the new taxes will have to reduce the number of their employees, curtail any plans to expand, or move out of state to compensate for the new taxes they have to pay. New Mexicans already carry a heavy tax burden when compared to other Rocky Mountain states.

Increasing taxes now will likely discourage future business development and job creation and cause the recession to drag on in New Mexico.

I have opposed every piece of legislation that has come before us that takes more money out of the citizens’ pockets by raising taxes and will continue to do so.

I would also like to note that this year in the Legislature there seems to be more effort to disguise taxes by using euphemisms like “revenue enhancements,” “fees,” “licensing,” or “operating costs,” than ever before. One representative from Albuquerque tried to sneak in taxes by simply eliminating the option to itemize taxes.

This strategy is the equivalent of putting a bow on a pig. No matter how big the bow, it is still a pig.

If you would like to keep tabs on what is going on yourself, please go to

www.nmlegis.gov/lcs/webcast/house_video.aspx

where you can watch the Legislature in action.

This Web site is a direct result of legislation I sponsored this year that requires the web casting of House floor proceedings. It is an important step toward increasing transparency in state government and keeping us all safe from “revenue licensing enhancement fees,” or whatever short-sighted, tax enthusiasts might throw at us.