New Mexico’s Road Fund was once considered a pot of money that would keep growing as more people in the state bought higher-priced cars and trucks, then drove extensively for business and recreation. Part of that has come to pass. With three interstate highways crossing New Mexico, increased trucking activity and record tourism, drivers are logging more miles. But they also are buying less gasoline, and the fund for road improvements and maintenance has stagnated. “We’ve seen an increase in traffic in New Mexico,” said state Rep. Larry Larrañaga, R-Albuquerque, a member of the House Transportation Committee.
Moderately low gas prices and an increasingly dire budget situation in the state has lawmakers eyeing new sources for revenue. Gov. Susana Martinez has adamantly opposed any new or increased taxes, but some lawmakers are looking to grab several more cents from drivers at the gas pump. At least two state senators and one Albuquerque city councilor have introduced legislation to increase gas taxes to help pay for road repairs and infrastructure. The move appears to be a trend in several other states. New Mexico state Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, chairs the Senate Finance Committee and is considered one of the most fiscally conservative Democrats in Santa Fe.
Delaying or freezing corporate income tax cuts and across-the-board budget cuts are two of the most popular proposals for bridging the state’s large budget deficit. That comes from a poll conducted by Public Policy Polling for NM Political Report. Respondents were asked to choose from a list of five options for balancing the budget. The options were “Delaying or freezing corporate income tax cuts,” “bringing back taxes on food and medicine,” “increasing the state gasoline tax,” “cutting education spending” and “enacting across-the-board spending cuts.”
After choosing their top choice, respondents were also asked to choose a second-best option from the same list. In both cases, respondents saw delaying incoming corporate income tax cuts delay and enacting across-the-board spending cuts as the two most popular choices.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – Failing roads in Albuquerque can cost drivers up to $669 in extra vehicle repair and maintenance expense each year. That’s according to a report from TRIP, a transportation research group. Carolyn Kelly, associate director of research and communications with TRIP, says the report also shows that 32 percent of urban roadways in Albuquerque are in poor condition. She says tire damage from potholes, glass damage from rocks and extra fuel expense from congestion are major problems with a far-reaching economic impact. “Oftentimes when companies are looking to either expand or relocate,” she says.
Senate Democrats said in a press conference on Wednesday afternoon that right-to-work will not pass the Senate. This came as Democrats touted their package which they say will create over 73,000 jobs if they become law. From the answers of two conservative members of the Senate, it looks like Democrats expect right-to-work legislation to be tabled in the committee process and never make the floor. Both Senate President Pro Tem Mary Kay Papen, D-Las Cruces, and Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, are conservative Democrats. Each said they respect the committee process when asked if they believed the bill would pass the Senate.