And Retake offers a hearty yes. We’ve been waiting for NM Voices for Children to announce a series of tax reform plans to be introduced into legislation. Today, we give them the stage and off a guest blog to one of the most important advocacy groups in New Mexico. We will, no doubt, heartily endorse their Tax Reform bills once they are introduced. MLG names three cabinet members. Read on.
New Mexico policy makers tell us we can’t make a transition to renewables until we are able to replace the huge amount of gas and oil revenue that flows into the state coffers. Yet, there are opportunities to mitigate those losses by reforming our tax system, legalizing recreational marijuana, and investing heavily in a renewable infrastructure that will allow us not just to use solar and wind power, but to export it. Over time, each of these policy initiatives could mitigate the loss of gas and oil revenues. Today, we let New Mexico Voices for Children lay out just two tax reform policies that could generate over $50M a year by taxing our wealthiest residents at levels that are eminently just. You will be shocked to find that today, our poorest residents pay double the rate of state and local taxes as our wealthiest residents. Read on for how NM Voices for Children plan to address this injustice.
Retake Our Democracy on KSFR 101.1 FM, Saturday, Dec. 15, 8:30am with Sierra Club Executive Director, Camilla Feibelman. A really terrific show as Camilla introduced Sierra Club’s extensive plans for building statewide advocacy capacity. She also discussed the Sierra Club’s 2019 legislative priorities and broke down her view on the complex issue of securitization. A show well worth listening in to. I’d also recommend tuning in 30 minutes early and listening to Richard Wolff who always has an interesting perspective on US politics, economics and the need for turning away from capitalism.
Saturday, December 15 (TODAY) “New Mexico Indivisibles for the National Popular Vote” monthly meeting. New Members welcome! We’ll get to know one another in person, plan our actions, and deepen our understanding of the National Popular Vote. La Farge Public Library, Community Room, 1730 Llano Street (off St. Michael’s Drive). Estimated length 2 hours. If you are not familiar with us yet, consider joining our 1,100-member Facebook group regardless of where you live: https://www.facebook.com/groups/NMIndivisiblesforNatlPopVote/.
Thursday, Dec. 20, 6-8pm 1420 Cerrillos. Retake Our Democracy, Roundhouse Advocacy Team, Orientation, Strategizing and Potluck BYOB. We need to continue to advance our preparation for the Roundhouse session one month and one day away, but we also decided we need to have a little fun and get to know each other better. If we are to sustain this work over the long-term we need to not just develop strategy, but to also develop community. Retake will bring a couple humongous pizzas to boost the fare, but we ask that you bring: your own washable plate, forks and knives and a glass along with one dish to share and your own beverage. We really want to minimize our waster. Orientation will be at the end of the meeting, 7:30-8pm so that we can eat when the food is warm and the beverages cool. We will encourage people to sit with someone they don’t know and will offer conversation cues to encourage dialog and getting to know others in our group. We will also hear from 2-3 of our allies. Confirmed right now is Jacob Vigil analyst from NM Voices for Children. And what a coincidence, a likely intro what he may say follows. For this meeting it is especially important that everyone RSVP by writing to firstname.lastname@example.org. The set up will involve tables, table cloths, chairs and ability to watch our speakers. For that we need to know how many will be there. We hope it is jammed.
Governor-Elect Michelle Lujan Grisham Announced Three Cabinet Members. Sarah Cottrell Propst was named as Secretary of Energy, Minerals and Natural Resources. Unlike the members of the Oil Conservation Commission who are all representatives of the gas and oil industries, Cottrell Propst is currently the Executive director of Interwest Energy Alliance, a nonprofit trade association for the renewable energy industry. Cottrell Propst will be able to appoint two members of the Oil Conservation Commission and incoming Land Commissioner will appoint the third member. .Executive director of Interwest Energy Alliance, a nonprofit trade association for the renewable energy industry.
Lujan Grisham appointed Olivia Padilla-Jackson as her Finance Secretary. Padilla-Jackson is currently serving as the budget officer for the city of Albuquerque.The governor-elect also named Dr. David Scrase to lead the Human Services Department, Scrase serves as the Executive vice president and chief operating officer at Presbyterian Healthcare Services; president and vice president of medical affairs of Presbyterian Health Plan; vice president for primary care at Mission Health Corporation; clinical practice in internal medicine..
Appointing an executive from the renewable energy industry is a dramatic shift from our prior Governor and her oil-drenched appointments. I don’t actually know much about the other two appointees. Two positive signs, Steve Pearce blasted all three appointments and both Dr. Scrase and MLG commented that they were likely not to implement the Medicaid policies proposed by outgoing Gov. Martinez and approved by the Trump administration. From the New Mexican: “The federal government on Friday approved several new Medicaid policies proposed by outgoing Republican Gov. Susana Martinez. That includes raising premiums and copays for some people enrolled in the health insurance program. But Lujan Grisham said her administration may not go through with that plan, arguing that raising costs for patients would be a barrier to health care.
“The higher the copay you pay, the less likely low-income people are to access care,” said Scrase, currently a professor of internal medicine and geriatrics at the University of New Mexico.”
If any of our readers have knowledge of any of the three appointees, please comment below.
To read the full New Mexican report, Click here.
Report: New Mexico Can Boost Opportunity and Combat Inequality by Expanding Wealth Taxes
New series explores options for state policymakers
A historically large share of the nation’s wealth is concentrated in the hands of a few, reducing opportunities for millions of Americans and reinforcing barriers that make it harder for people of color to make gains. These inequities are made worse by most state tax systems – including New Mexico’s. By designing better tax policy, state lawmakers can help spread opportunity more widely and build more broadly shared prosperity.
Among the solutions on state policymakers’ lists should be expanding the taxation of assets of the very wealthy, since loopholes and other special benefits currently shield much of the value of these assets from federal, state, and local taxes, a new series of reports by the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities (CBPP) argues. Eliminating these tax advantages would shift some of the responsibility for funding critical public services and investments like schools, roads, and health care from low- and moderate-income taxpayers to those best able to pay, while increasing opportunity for everyone.
How States Can Tax Wealth, which launched yesterday with two short Issue Briefs (listed below), explores how states can better tax wealth and high incomes to make state tax codes fairer, raise adequate funding for public services, and expand opportunity.
Issue Brief: State Taxes on Inherited Wealth: State taxes on inherited wealth apply only to the wealthiest individuals and are the primary state tax on wealth. But these taxes have gradually eroded, even as wealth and income have become more concentrated. States with these taxes should maintain them, and states without them should consider enacting them – or consider taxing inheritances as income. State taxes on inherited wealth are not affected by the federal estate tax. Reinstating an estate tax in New Mexico with a $1 million exemption would raise an estimated $40 million each year to fund education, health care, and other important public services.
Issue Brief: State Taxes on Capital Gains: Capital gains income, which goes overwhelmingly to the wealthiest households, receives special tax preferences in a number of states. In New Mexico, tax filers can deduct 50 percent of this unearned income from their state taxes, costing the state between $20 million and $55 million per year. States with such preferences should eliminate them.
“State policymakers across the country and across the political spectrum agree that inequality and the increasing concentration of wealth is a problem,” said Elizabeth McNichol, Senior Fellow at CBPP and project lead on this new series. “The good news is there are plenty of policy solutions that can improve state tax systems, raise new revenues for important public investments, and boost opportunities for workers and families striving to get ahead. Our new series can help lawmakers make smarter decisions in 2019 and beyond.”
Nationwide, the top 1 percent of households own roughly 40 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 90 percent of households own just 21 percent. This top-heavy structure reduces opportunity for millions of American families – particularly Black families, Hispanic families, and other families of color, who have faced additional barriers to building wealth due to the legacy of historical racism and the ongoing damage from racial bias and discrimination. In New Mexico, the median net worth of white households is nearly ten times that of households of color. This staggering inequity is especially concerning in New Mexico, where people of color make up the majority of the population.
State and local governments largely exacerbate this disparity through the state and local tax code, which asks low- and middle-income taxpayers in most states to pay a larger share of their income in taxes than the wealthiest taxpayers.
In New Mexico, the lowest-income 20 percent of taxpayers face an average state and local tax rate that’s almost double what the top 1 percent of households pay. The average effective state and local tax rate is 10.6 percent for the lowest-income 20 percent of individuals and families, 10.2 percent for the middle 20 percent, and 6 percent for the top 1 percent.
Over the past 15 years in New Mexico, more than $1 billion a year has been handed out via income tax cuts that mostly benefitted those with the highest incomes and out-of-state corporations. That huge loss of revenue, in turn, has led to big budget cuts, particularly in K-12 and higher education – two areas that need robust investments for states to have strong economies. New Mexico Voices for Children, which is partnering with CBPP on the report release, is calling for tax policies that are both fairer and that bring in adequate revenue. Among those policies are repealing the deduction for capital gains income and raising the tax rate on the highest incomes.
“Better tax policies like these are an important tool for creating a state with more opportunity and more broadly shared prosperity,” said James Jimenez, executive director of NM Voices. “Improving and expanding the taxation of wealth could help bring more balance to our state’s tax code by ensuring the wealthiest families are paying their share toward building a stronger New Mexico.”
We owe a debt of gratitude to NM Voices for Children for partnering with the Council on Budget and Policy Priorities to research these issues and show leadership in seeking meaningful tax reform in NM. We face steep obstacles in the Roundhouse with the Senate and Senators John Arthur Smith, Clemente Sanchez, and Mary Kay Papen being especially challenging. But with good research and strong advocacy, we will have a far better chance of shifting one or two of these Senators and getting this done.
Paul & Roxanne