I am writing today to announce the closure of the New Mexico Independent. After three and a half years of operation in New Mexico, the board of the American Independent News Network, has decided to shift publication of its news…
Posts Tagged Dede Feldman
New Mexico would tax food for the first time in years, add $1 to the state cigarette tax and net taxes from out-of-state owners of business partnerships on income earned here.
Meanwhile, state agencies would get fewer dollars and several hundred jobs would disappear from state government. That mixture of spending cuts and tax hikes was part of a $5.276 billion state budget proposal that the Senate passed 25 to 17 early Sunday morning to help close a projected shortfall of several hundred million dollars next year.
Stock up on white flour tortillas and red chile pods now. The New Mexico Senate voted late Saturday night to extend the state’s gross receipts tax on a wide variety of foods after a wide-ranging debate that included attempts to raise taxes from the state’s wealthiest residents and out-of-state corporations.
Brought forward by Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, D-Albuquerque, the food tax passed on a vote of 23 to 19. The measure exempts foods offered through the state’s nutrition program for women, infants and children, known as the WIC program, plus fresh or frozen meats, poultry and chicken. But it also taxes many foods considered staples, like white flour tortillas, white bread and red chile pods.
“It helps prevent additional cuts to Medicaid, to courts, to seniors…and hopefully it’ll eventually have a health benefit by reducing obesity and diabetes,” Sanchez said.
But Sen. Cisco McSorley said consumers wouldn’t know which products would be taxed and which wouldn’t be, and, he said, a wide variety of foods would not be exempt.
“For the last five years, this state has enjoyed a tax free Thanksgiving,” McSorley said, “and that’s something to be thankful for. But if you look at a butterball turkey, spices and preservatives are built into it, so would it be taxed?”
Sanchez replied that the intent was to exempt meats, poultry and fish with limited amounts of added ingredients, and that the Tax and Revenue Department was working out the details.
Two amendments specifically concerning the food tax bill were offered. Sen. George Munoz, D-Gallup, proposed exempting red chile pods and powder. Sen. Eric Griego, D-Albuquerque, meanwhile, suggested taxing all food, while offering a food rebate for low-income families. His proposal would reduce the complexity of the tax, he said, while making it more progressive by offering an outright tax rebate to the poor. Both amendments failed.
McSorley explained in voting no on Griego’s amendment that he had promised his constituents he would never vote for a food tax. Another progressive senator defended Sanchez’s legislation.
“I came into this session thinking I’d never vote for a food tax, but I realized this could be the biggest boon to health in NM,” said Sen. Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque. “This is a tax on salt, sugar, white flour and processed foods. …[when] over 60 percent of New Mexicans are overweight or obese. Mothers will be cooking more and cooking from scratch. That is a good thing.”
The food tax legislation received vigorous opposition in the lead up to the final floor debate by the Catholic Church in a particular. Billed a “tortilla tax,” the legislation was blasted for taxing white tortillas, which are a staple food in New Mexico.
“WIC is designed to provide supplemental funding for food with an extensive education to accompany it,” Allen Sanchez, a lobbyist for the New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops, said immediately after the legislation was adopted.
“Without education the working poor will not be able to navigate the grocery story knowing what is taxed and is not taxed. This bill deliberately targets the poor and the Catholic bishops of New Mexico find this bill to be in direct contradiction to the Gospel values.”
Other tax measures
The food tax passed despite multiple amendments offered by several lawmakers who hoped to raise revenues in a variety of other ways.
“This is about asking the richest people to step up to the plate,” Sen. Eric Griego said of an unsuccessful amendment that would have raised the top income tax rate in the state.
Another amendment offered by Griego reduced the capital gains exemption from 50 to 25 percent.
“There are 15 to 20 proposals that have been circulated to help us raise the revenue we need,” Griego said to explain why he offered the two amendments on the food tax bill. “This is the only vehicle we have to have a balanced conversation, because most haven’t seen the light of day.”
“Otherwise,” he said, “we’re just balancing the budget on the backs of teachers, …instead of asking the rich and wealthy to pay their fair share.”
Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, proposed an amendment that would have mandated that multi-state corporations use a mechanism called “combined reporting,” which would ensure they pay corporate income tax to New Mexico. Wirth has proposed the bill for five years in a row, but in years past was routinely told that while the idea was a good one, the state didn’t need the money. Now it does, he said, which was why he thought it was important to ensure a floor debate.
“I was told for years that it’s a good deal, but we don’t need the money,” Wirth said. “Now, we need the money. It’s about fairness. It doesn’t apply a new tax rate, it simply makes these multi-state corporations pay their fair share.”
Ultimately, neither Wirth’s or Griego’s two amendments were adopted.
Votes for and against the food tax, SB 10:
For: Campos, Cisneros, Eichenberg, Feldman, Fischmann, Phil Griego, Ingle, Jennings, Kernan, Leavell, Martinez, Morales, Munoz, Ortiz y Pino, Papen, Pinto, B. Sanchez, M. Sanchez, Sapien, Smith, Ulibarri, Beffert, Harden.
Against: Adair, Asbill, Boitano, Cravens, Duran, Garcia, Eric Griego, Keller, Lopez, Lovejoy, McSorley, Payne, Rue, Ryan, Sharer, Wirth, Nava, Neville, Rodriguez
Annie got one step closer to being able to carry her concealed gun into a restaurant on Friday.
A bill that would oppose any mandate that New Mexicans buy a specific type of health care coverage failed Friday in the Senate Rules Committee on a 4-3 vote after very little debate. The sponsor, William Sharer, R-Farmington, said the…
The Senate Rules Committee tabled a bill Wednesday that would have banned people who have contracts with the State Land Office from giving campaign contributions to the land commissioner or candidates for that office.
A modified food tax bill that would add gross receipts tax to non-staple food is poised to become part of the budget package, it’s sponsor, Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, D-Bernalillo, said in a statement issued late Monday. While the New Mexico Food and Agriculture Policy Council took a position against the imposition of a food tax earlier in the year and hasn’t discussed this bill, the coordinator of the policy table, Pam Roy, told The Independent she thought this bill was “palatable.”
Lively debate preceded the Senate’s Wednesday vote in favor (23-15) on SB 148, which prohibits insurance companies from using gender as a factor in determining health insurance rates.
If the state establishes an ethics commission, how many members should it have? Who appoints them? And how much of the commission’s work should be made public? Legislators are grappling with those decisions as three bills are combined into one.
A major transparency bill that would create a “sunshine portal” passed the Senate unanimously Friday afternoon. The sunshine portal is described as an online version of the state’s checkbook, showing information about state spending, including state contracts and state employee…
On Wednesday night, NMI hosted our third Independent Forum event with Sen. Dede Feldman, Rep. Dennis Roch and Sarah Welsh of the New Mexico Foundation for Open Government. We had a lively discussion that ranged from taxes…
Two bills designed to reform laws related to DWI, brought by Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, made their way through the Senate Public Affairs Committee Tuesday. Neither got out of committee with a “do-pass” recommendation, and each gained an additional…
Fred Nathan of Think New Mexico, the think tank that championed eliminating the gross receipts tax on food several years ago, and has campaigned hard against reinstating the tax this year, told The Independent today that the group would be willing…
One conservative lawmaker joined a bloc of liberals on the Senate floor Tuesday in attempting to bring back a handful of tax bills that a Senate committee had previously shot down.
While we at the New Mexico Independent are sending tweets on our Twitter account about the state Legislature, we aren’t the only ones. Legislators, media and even the House GOP are sending out updates on the 2009 special session.
The indictments of former New Mexico Secretary of State Rebecca Vigil-Giron and others are a reminder of the need for reforms that might help prevent or deter public corruption in the future. Officials point to reforms such as the creation of an independent ethics commission, more funding for the state auditor and attorney general and regulatory changes.
State Senator Dede Feldman, D-Albuquerque, is one of the more vocal advocates of health care reform in the New Mexico Legislature.
The North Valley lawmaker is currently attending a meeting of the National Conference of State Legislatures in…
Tonight the city of Albuquerque has scheduled a public information hearing to hear concerns about whether a cement company should be allowed to expand its hours of operation to 24 hours a day. Residents of the North Valley neighborhood surrounding the American Cement plant complain about cement dust blanketing their yards and trees, but representatives for the company say they’ve made significant improvements since buying the plant last year.
Calling it “a thrill,” state Sen. Dede Feldman announced on her blog Sunday that she will be headed to Washington D.C. to talk about healthcare reform “with HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Presidential Advisor Valerie Jarrett, along with 30 other…
The Middle Rio Grande Conservancy District election today could change the direction of the organization that controls a vast stretch of bosque, ditches and levees between Cochiti and Socorro. The most hotly contested seats represent Bernalillo County, where one director has rankled some with his forthright style but earned praise from others for stirring up a cozy board and shining light on its inner workings.
For years, residents in Albuquerque’s North Valley have been pushing for a formalized system of recreation trails along the acequias, an idea the current board has unanimously rejected. Supporters of the trail plan are hoping that electing new board members will pave the way to change.