We reprise last week’s posts on the parallels between 1932 & 2020 elections; we offer a critique of Roundhouse operations; & we give a frightening report on how Trump disinformation could get him a second term.
Save the Date: Tuesday, Mar. 17, 6:30-8pm, Center for Progress & Justice, 1420 Cerrillos Rd. Retake Takes Stock of 2020 Session & Launches 2020 June Primary Strategy. If you need motivation, read on.
Please RSVP by writing to us at RetakeResponse@gmail.com.
Our DINO Dems, Hard At Work for the 3%, But No Time for the 97%
On Saturday, I vented about the utterly inane legislative process that unfolds in the Roundhouse (See Saturday’s post below). Over the weekend, matters have only gotten worse. While several bills we support sit in Senator John Arthur Smith’s Senate Finance Committee, that committee and Senate Corporations & Transportation found time to hear and pass unanimously SB 274, one of the most despicable repudiations of economic and social justice imaginable. You just don’t get more brazen than this.
Last year, the legislature finally found the gumption to add a new higher tax bracket to the NM state tax code — a one-cent-on-the-dollar increase in taxes that impacts only the top 3% of the state taxpayers. And who might that be? The top 3% are individuals with annual incomes over $210,000 or if filing jointly over $315K.
While this would increase their state tax obligation by only 1% (from 4.9% to 5.9%), it would nonetheless generate $220 million for the state between 2021-2026...unless SB 274 becomes law. SB 274 postpones the increase until 2026.
We are the poorest state in the country, we rank last in child welfare, and our education system is one of the worst. We have the most regressive tax code in the country, and yet Sen. Clemente Sanchez, Chair of Senate Corporations & Transportation made this bill a priority for a hearing, and Senator John Arthur Smith felt this also warranted precious time from the Senate Finance Committee.
SB 274 passed unanimously in both committees, meaning each of the Senators listed below voted to pass this legislation, presumably because they felt the NM 3% needs the tax savings more than the 97% of New Mexicans who not only don’t benefit from the cut, they are doubly dis-served as the state is deprived of $220M that could be used on our schools, our roads, our infrastructure, early childhood, healthcare, or any of a million other uses that are better than offering the rich an extra first class flight to Europe or a new SUV.
The following Democratic Senators (all of whom are up for re-election this year) thought this was such a great idea that they voted for it in either Senate Finance or Senate Corporations:
- Senator John Arthur Smith
- Senator Clemente Sanchez
- Senator Mary Kay Papen
- Senator Bill Tallman
- Senator George Muñoz
- Senator Jacob Candelaria
- Senator Benny Shendo
- Senator John Sapien
- Senator Bobby Gonzales (inexplicably — an otherwise solid Democrat)
- Senator Nancy Rodriquez
While their time was spent debating the merits of this bill, five of our Priority Bills were stalled in Senate Finance. The following bills have been sitting there for one to three weeks, and none of them are scheduled for today’s committee hearing:
- SB 24 Individual Development Account Act, a measure that would make it easier for the working poor to establish credit and develop savings, something the 3% don’t need to fret about–this bill has been in queue in Senate Finance since Jan. 27;
- SB 33 Study Funding of Nongame Species Conservation, a bill that would facilitate protecting endangered species. The bill has been stalled in Senate Finance since Jan 28;
- SB 2 Electric Vehicle Income Tax Credit, sitting in SFC since Feb 3, would provide an opportunity to incentivize the purchase of more electric vehicles. HB 217, the House version of this tax credit, is also parked in Senate Finance;
- SB 114 Community Energy Efficiency Development Grant Act would give low-income communities funds to improve residential homes’ energy efficiency; stalled in Senate Finance since Feb 4;
- SB 134 Independent Redistricting Commission, stalled in Senate Finance since Feb 7;
- SB 323 Opportunity Scholarship. At an annual cost of $35M, this bill would be completely paid for (with plenty left over) by the 1% tax increase the above Senators voted to postpone. It has been parked in Senate Finance since Feb 12.
Every single one of these bills could have been chosen for a hearing in Senate Finance last week with the next step the Senate Floor. Instead, Senator Smith and his fellow committee members chose to hear SB 274 so that the 3% could get their tax break and the state would have $220M less revenue to devote to the priorities of the 97% of New Mexicans who don’t benefit from the cut. To add to the backlog, three more important bills have just been added to the Senate Finance Committee docket.
- HB 100 Health Insurance Exchange Act, which would protect the healthcare coverage of New Mexicans from the ACA being declared unconstitutional…. just this little thing called health coverage…I’m sure the NM 3% are not fretting;
- HB 148 Working Families Tax Credit and SB 87 another slightly different version of HB 148; and
- HB 233 Renewable Grid Modernization Roadmap, which would guide the state in update and modernizing its renewable energy grid.
There is some possibility that the Senate Finance Committee addressed one or more of these bills in their hearing on Sunday. It is impossible to know, however, since the meeting announcement posted for Sunday hearings indicated Finance would meet at a time “to be determined” with an agenda to be posted outside the hearing room at the time of the meeting, whenever that was.
Doesn’t exactly sound as if they want us there. But come June, they get to hear from us. There is this thing called a Primary Election where voters get a chance to raise their voices and make their choices. But before we vote, we need to organize and devote our time and resources to support candidates who are not too busy currying favor with the 3% to tend to the needs of the rest of us. Join us on March 17 and we’ll discuss this together.
A Look Back
Trump $1 Billion Disinformation Campaign Could Give Us Four More Years, Plus Report on Inspiring Effort by Santa Fe Youth at the Roundhouse
Tuesday, Feb 11. We all know he lies constantly. We all know Fox News spews and even amplifies those lies, misleading his supporters and filling them with alt-facts and poisonous rhetoric. But what you may not fully appreciate is what is to come: a $1 billion social media campaign carefully constructed to complete reframe reality and precisely target inflammatory messaging in nuanced ways to specific subgroups. The post describes the work of the social media genius who has constructed this campaign and how it is intended to manipulate the election. Very frightening.
The post also describes the inspiring and then heartbreaking story of how a group of Santa Fe high school students had an idea for an increase in NM’s gas tax to pay for roads, to invest in renewable infrastructure, and to create a fund to support a tax credit for low-income drivers to mitigate the increase in the gas tax. They worked with Rep. Matthew McQueen and over a three year period developed their idea into a bill. On Mon., Feb. 10, they presented the bill in House Appropriations & Finance, Rep. Patty Lundstrom, Chair. They also organized over 75 well-informed students to offer public comment in support of the bill. By a vote of 14-1 the committee voted to table the bill. It was a really sad result. I will be interviewing one of the leaders of the student group, Tabatha Hirsch, for the Retake radio show. It will air on Feb 29.
What Can 1932 Election Tell Us About 2020?
Tuesday, Feb 11. In 1932, the incumbent President Herbert Hoover ranted that the election of the “socialist” Franklin Delano Roosevelt would result in America’s demise, that government would enter the lives of all Americans, and that we would soon be marching to Moscow.
We all know how that played out. FDR was elected in a landslide and indeed he did vastly expand the role of government, delivering unemployment insurance, Social Security, and an immense investment in our infrastructure: The New Deal. In those days, Americans had no clue how government could regulate industry or how taxing the rich could afford the government the required resources to rebuild the nation and meet the needs of common folk, and Hoover banked on the idea that voters would not trust government expansion.
We have different challenges today, but they are, if anything, even more daunting. With wealth inequality worse than in 1932 and the pressing need to address the climate crisis, there are only two candidates with platforms up to the job and a credible history of endorsing progressive reform. Both are being characterized as too extreme and unelectable. Well, take a look at the map above. That’s the kind of landslide we need in 2020, and history suggests it is possible, as do a series of polls cited in this post.
There Must Be a Better Way to Run the Legislature
Saturday, Feb 15. Saturday’s post was an expression of simmering frustration. I have spent too many hours listening to trivial memorials and announcements, appointment hearings, and endless repetitive and disingenuous questions. And, after all this, they run out of time to examine bills.
What wasn’t stated in this post was the degree to which, as we start to run out of time, each chamber begins to make important decisions at midnight, outside the scrutiny of the public. Or those decisions are made in committee hearings announced on nmlegis.gov at midnight the night before, with many of them not giving the time or an agenda of bills to be heard.
We are about out of time to deal with the climate crisis; we are ranked 49th or 50th in almost everything good; and we have an all Democrat House, Senate, and Governor. That should translate into a barrage of visionary and impactful bills passing quickly through the legislature. Not this session, not yet.
Join us on March 17. We need to talk and plan.
Paul & Roxanne