SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – With only about 24 hours until the end of the legislative session, New Mexico’s lawmakers are trying to hammer out the details of a big tax package. Three members of the House and three members of the Senate are going head-to-head to try to reach an agreement on tax changes. If they can’t agree, the bill, in its entirety, dies.
Earlier in the session, the House proposed a big, omnibus tax bill. But the Senate tried to amended key points of the bill, such as differing income tax brackets, different gross receipts taxes for businesses, differing capital gains deductions, and differing credits for geothermal development. But the House has opposed the changes.
Now, legislators are hoping to come to agreement while not casting a negative light on the dealings over tax changes that could affect the entire state.
“We are close to 24 hours from adjoining this year’s session. We have some work to get done,” Rep. Derrick J. Lente – (D) said March 17. “I’m all for transparency and want to make sure that we can do this in the light of day.” And added: “The intent is here to try to lower our tax liability.”
A key point of contention is how much of a tax break the state should give to the film industry, particularly when it comes to out-of-state companies. For years, the state has incentivized productions, but some are looking for a change.
“Quite frankly, I’m not a big fan of of giving money to someone who is not a resident in New Mexico,” Sen. Craig Brandt (R-Sandoval). “My priority is to take care of the people in our state. And so, I think with the film tax credit, we really want that to be one of those things where we’re really encouraging the film companies to use and hire as many New Mexicans as possible.”
Rep. Micaela Lara Cadena (D-Doña Ana), who has family connections to the film industry, said that there’s more to it than just employment: “There’s jobs, but there’s also so much economic development happening when the costumers need to pay a local dry cleaner to stay open 24/7 to make sure they have a turnaround on getting those costumes back out, when we are delivering checks of hundreds of thousands of dollars to local lumber yards because they’re building out a set.”
But Rep. Jason C. Harper (R-Sandoval) argued that maybe the film industry doesn’t truly care about New Mexico. “We hear from [the film industry] that if we reduce the incentives, or if they find better incentives somewhere else, they’re just gonna leave. And so to me, that shows that they’re really not invested in New Mexico. They’re invested in the payout,” Harper said. “I would really rather that if we’re going to spend this kind of money on corporate welfare, that we do it on an industry that is vested in New Mexico and puts roots down in New Mexico.”
The legislators didn’t come to a decision Friday morning, but they did seem willing to make compromises. But beyond film credits, they still have more issues to work out in order to get any form of the tax package passed.