We knew the 2017 legislative session was going to be a tough one for individual liberty and free markets. While most of the country moved right, New Mexico lurched far to the left in the 2016 election.
The good news: although we knew going into the session that no big reforms like “right to work, school choice, or “prevailing wage” repeal were going to make it through, the question was whether the Gov. would hold firm against higher taxes and raising the minimum wage. To date, she has indeed held firm vetoing tax hikes and economically-harmful minimum wage hikes.
Also, the Legislature (despite being firmly under Democrat control) was unwilling to tap the “permanent fund” for pre-K and more spending.
In summary, no major damage was sustained.
The bad news: Since Gov. Martinez is vetoing $350 million in tax hikes, that means the budget will be out of balance and that the Legislature is moving towards yet another special session. With Democrat legislators desperately wanting to raise taxes and Gov. Martinez holding firm against raising taxes, there are only a few potential outcomes:
1) Democrats fold and agree to budget cuts;
2) Some previously-unknown or untapped source of money is found to fill the budget gap;
3) Republican legislators fold and vote to override Gov. Martinez’s veto. Such a move could destroy the Republican Party “brand” in New Mexico for years to come;
4) Gov. Martinez folds and agrees to raise taxes (another move that could inflict terrible harm on the Republican Party for years;
5) A government shutdown the ultimate results of which are unclear but really boil down to the first three items on this list.
These are fraught times. New Mexico’s economy faces unprecedented challenges and the conservative movement faces existential challenges. Democrats have the proverbial wind behind them and feel it is only a matter of time until they hold all levers of power. If conservatives don’t stand firm, they risk becoming totally irrelevant in this State.
Contact your legislators, especially if they are a Republican and tell them not to raise taxes. Make sure they know that you are watching!
Also, support the Rio Grande Foundation which is providing clear data to show that New Mexico’s problem is bloated government, not inadequate revenue.
A reminder: find out how your legislators are voting on freedom and which bills voted on this session would have the biggest impact on freedom at our Freedom Index.