Hold on to your wallet!
NM Taxpayers Don’t Have to Fund Continual Shopping Sprees
By Joseph Montes
It’s become routine. Almost as though the voters and taxpayers of New Mexico have accepted by rote memorization that tax increases and property tax-supported bond authority will grow and grow forever. There’s little critical questioning of the way our elected leaders propose to spend our hard earned tax dollars. This is groupthink at its worst.
At a time when so many of our neighbors are stretched to the breaking point, it would seem like sage political leaders should be aggressively seeking ways to allow taxpayers to keep more of their hard-earned money. Instead, in Dona Ana County, residents are being asked to vote next Tuesday (early voting has already started) on initiatives that would require taxpayers to shell out an additional quarter of a percent in the local sales tax and require property owners to continue property taxes at current rates– rather than see them drop –so that the county commissioners can go on a shopping spree. Between the two, it is anticipated the $15 million dollar taxpayer-funded spending bonanza will, in part, be going to the dogs as the county commission seeks to complete a facility for animals that are involved in court cases. It may sound like a canine witness protection program, but evidently the budget originally set aside for the facility has been blown, so the commission needs to return to the trough for more pork.
Here’s a not-so-original idea: hold our elected representatives and public servants responsible for how they spend our money. As long as these officials know that voters are automatically going to approve tax increases without negative consequences to their political aspirational goals, they will keep coming back for more. Voters will have no one else to blame but themselves for enabling such outrageous spending without real accountability.
Many Las Cruces residents will remember authorizing a $72 million bond issue in the 1990’s, the proceeds of which were intended to create a municipal electrical utility by buying out El Paso Electric. However, today, El Paso Electric remains the local electricity provider despite the issuance of the bonds. Residents are left to scratch their heads wondering where all the money went.
Looking ahead, local governments are certain to step up these efforts as the legislative mandate to phase-out the “Hold Harmless” provision of the state budget kicks in. This provision was a guarantee by the state that revenues cities lost by the elimination of gross receipts taxes on groceries would be made up in the state budget. This past session, the legislature agreed to begin to phase out the guarantee and instead give local governments the authority to increase rates to make up for the loss of those revenues.
Hold on to your wallet!
It’s time that voters ask how much government they can and are willing to sustain as they, themselves, struggle to make ends meet. Voters must recognize the frequency with which taxes are increased and the infrequency with which they ever decrease. In these matters, your vote is your voice.
Joseph Montes directs the New Mexico chapter of Americans for Prosperity.