By Tracy Dingmann
Three bills aimed at ensuring more transparency and accountability for the people of New Mexico have been approved by the New Mexico State Legislature and are headed for the Governor’s desk.
Senate Bill 47, sponsored by Senator Tim Keller (D-Albuquerque) and House Bill 161, sponsored by Representative Eleanor Chavez (D-Albuquerque), call for the state to establish a tax expenditure budget. This innovative budget mechanism is a transparency tool that would allow the state to present a full and accurate accounting of the vast array of tax breaks and giveaways contained in the tax code, including those that have generated so much controversy, such as for the oil and gas, mining and film industries.
Moreover, it will give policymakers and the public a rational basis upon which to determine the fiscal and economic impacts of these tax expenditures. Which ones are beneficial to New Mexico, and which ones are not? Which ones should be scaled back or even discarded?
“With passage of SB47 we’ll be able to measure the costs and benefits of these tax breaks,” Keller said. “Some of these tax expenditures play an important economic development role and some support vulnerable segments of the population. The challenge is right now we don’t know which ones are beneficial to our state and which ones aren’t needed.”
This could benefit all New Mexicans by freeing up money for necessary services for all, including healthcare, education and public safety.
Senator Keller estimates that the state maintains approximately 107 carve-outs that make up a whopping $1 billion in uncollected annual taxes each year.
Another bill headed to the Governor now is Senate Bill 208, which calls for the state to establish a much stronger process for reviewing insurance rate increases. The bill, sponsored by Senator Dede Feldman (D-Albuquerque), gives consumers fair and more transparent ways to hold insurance companies accountable.