The second day of the legislature’s special session started with debate on Rep. Jason Harper’s tax overhaul bill – a 430 page behemoth the governor supports and is using to try and torpedo the legislature’s work fixing the budget she broke.
Two lobbyists stood up to support the bill in committee, but they were then followed by over a dozen advocates (the education community, labor groups, healthcare advocates, and child advocates) speaking in opposition.
People have serious problems with the proposals inside Harper’s bill — the push to tax charities and non-profits, getting rid of the tax-free back-to-school weekend, the fact that we haven’t had a deep-dive analysis of the bill, the fact that we don’t know it’s fiscal impact on the state, along with about a dozen other concerning details.
One of the opponents of the bill summed it up well by saying it’s simply “Not ready for primetime.” Another said, “I don’t’ have the information I need to know if I support or oppose this bill.”
And Bill Jordan of New Mexico Voices for Children (who have a great summary of the proposed tax reform here) reminded the committee that the last time (in 2013) the legislature passed a big tax bill no one had read “the rich got richer, the poor got poorer.” He was referring to the now-infamous “royal screw job” that was passed in literally the last minutes of the 2013 legislative session.
At the end of the debate, the bill was tabled on 6-5 vote in the House Labor Committee.
It’s simply not prudent to try and overhaul the state’s entire tax system in a short special session, especially when neither the public nor legislators have had sufficient time to analyze it and understand it’s true impacts.
The push now is for a comprehensive study of the bill’s impacts that the legislature and public can then study and then take this issue back up later in the year or at the next legislative session.