Gas tax increase could pump millions of dollars into fixing up roads

Politics - Government
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New Mexicans could soon be paying more to gas up their cars. 

With full control of the Roundhouse, Democratic lawmakers are eyeing an increase to the state gas tax among other possible tax increases outlined in the newly proposed House Bill 6.

“You know, this is a huge bill,” said Representative Javier Martinez, a Democrat representing Albuquerque and co-signer of House Bill.

One of the most notable pieces of the bill could hike up the state’s gas tax by 10 cents, a more than 50 percent increase to the gas tax that would bring the total gas tax to around 27 cents per gallon.

The state’s backlog on projects and a shortage of road money is well-documented. Millions of dollars that would be generated by the increase would be poured into road repair, Democrats say.

“We see this as a conversation starter and as a blueprint for us to be able to do something this session,” said Rep. Martinez.

Meanwhile, some Republicans are already sounding off about their concern with the Democrats proposed legislation, citing the state’s large budget surplus.

“In a year again where you have two billion dollars of extra money, that just doesn’t make any sense to me,” said Republican Representative Jason Harper of Rio Rancho.

There are several other elements that make up House Bill 6, including other tax increases and at least one decrease to gross receipts taxes.

Under the Democrats initial proposal, House Bill 6 would also increase the “vehicle excise” (vehicle sale) tax to match the gross receipts tax rate, which differs around the state.

Another measure of the bill could raise personal income tax rates and start “a framework” to collect taxes on all internet purchases.

House Republic Representative Jason Harper is taking aim at a proposed income tax hike, saying it would hurt middle-class families the most.

“This is a big problem,” said Harper. “They want to raise our personal income tax from 4.9 percent to 6.5 percent, and they say on high earners…well, that’s not who it’s hitting. It’s gonna hit our middle class, all these teachers they just gave a raise to, it’s gonna hurt them,” Harper.

Although Republicans and Democrats aren’t seeing eye to eye on this bill, they both agree New Mexico needs tax reform. 

The House’s Tax and Revenue Committee is expected to start diving into the bill Wednesday. 

The five co-sponsors of the bill are optimistic it will pass now that the Democrats control the House, Senate and the governor’s office.  

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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