*Editor’s note: This story has been updated with info about the conference committee
SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – With the end of the lawmaking session looming, a rift has developed between New Mexico’s politicians. At the heart of the divide is the exact wording of an omnibus tax bill.
The bill, under several rounds of debate earlier this week, looks to make some big changes to tax brackets and credits in the state. After the New Mexico Senate tried to amend the bill, the New Mexico House is rejecting those changes. So now, legislators have to go into a special process called a “conference committee” to try to find some agreement. That meeting is set for 6:00 p.m. tonight, Thursday, March 16.
The bill, as it stands, could change how much individuals and businesses pay in taxes. Among other things, the bill would restructure the state’s income tax brackets, offer another round of rebates, and give some industries significant tax credits. For more on the details of the proposal, check out this KRQE News 13 story.
Wednesday, March 15, legislators in the Senate Tax, Business, and Transportation Committee approved some changes to the bill. But now, members of the House have rejected those changes, and the Senate isn’t backing down.
In the midst of the debate, New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham asked lawmakers to consider the total cost of the tax package. According to her office, one version of the bill could cost the state $1 billion in lost tax funds, which would be a bit over 10% of the state’s total budget in recent years.
“Most New Mexicans have stinging memories of past years of painful funding cuts spurred by an imbalanced recurring budget . . .I’m worried that the Legislature may have a short-term memory,” Lujan Grisham said in a press release. “Put simply: this tax package cuts too deep, too quickly.”
The governor asked legislators to balance bold reform with fiscal responsibility. With that in mind, Senators Benny Shendo, Jr. (D), Craig W. Brandt – (R), and Peter Wirth – (D) will meet with Representatives Derrick J. Lente – (D), Micaela Lara Cadena – (D), and Jason C. Harper – (R) to try to come to an agreement over the tax package before the session ends this Saturday at noon.