April 21, 2017

Government should tighten belt, not raise taxes

Laura Paskus

When I was elected, I promised that I would go to Santa Fe to work for New Mexicans—not big government. It’s disturbing that some in the Legislature think that we need to grow state government even more and tax New Mexicans in the middle of a budget crisis.

This last session, Democrat legislators decided to take the easy way out of the budget crisis and raise taxes on working New Mexicans instead of tightening state governments belt. While they wasted time debating bills on winter holiday songs, state dances and, yes, even Bigfoot our state’s financial situation got even worse. Now, we’re staring down a potential government shutdown meaning that Motor Vehicle Division offices and state parks might have to close.

Rick Little is a Republican state representative from Chaparral, representing the 53rd district.

All of this could have been avoided. But instead of working to find bipartisan solutions, Democrats would rather raise taxes by $350 million. That includes the gas tax, which would have meant rural communities like ours would have been punished more than others. It also includes the vehicle excise tax: Need a new car? Well, get ready to pay more for it.

Why should the single mom with two kids living in Mesquite have to spend more at the pump when driving into Las Cruces for groceries? What about the working Dad that has to go to work at White Sands Missile Range or Holloman? How about the grandma living in Chaparral taking care of her grandkids in Las Cruces?

Thankfully the governor vetoed the massive tax increase package.

It was clear to me this last session that the majority had other priorities. So, instead of working to solve the crisis, what were they doing?

How about debating whether to create a new state winter holiday song? Hard-hitting questions were asked like: Do we add a line about posole? What about tamales? If we really want to waste some time, how about we add a state dance bill to the agenda as well?

And I like cheeseburgers as much as the next guy, but should we spend hours of taxpayer time debating about establishing state cheeseburgers when we’re in the midst of a budget crisis?

Democrats in the Legislature also decided to give themselves a budget increase while the rest of state government has had to deal with cuts.

It’s been hard to tell my constituents what the Legislature did this session while keeping a straight face. It’s beyond disappointing and it hurts our small communities more than the big city.

And sadly, Democrat inactions this last 60 day session will have real consequences for our community.

Because Democrats don’t want to find solutions in a special session that doesn’t involve raising taxes, state government may have to shut down.

That means that MVD offices around the state could have dramatically reduced hours or face complete shutdown. That is especially devastating going into summer, as New Mexicans prepare to go on vacation after the school year lets out.

It also means that our state museums may have to close down. The Farm and Ranch Heritage Museum is one of our local treasures. It’s sad that the Legislature has put it at risk of closure.

So what’s the answer? Simple: tighten state government’s belt, not yours.

In the House and Senate, it’s our responsibility to balance the budget. And I refuse to balance it on the backs of hardworking New Mexicans.