Author: KGFisher

Legislation Introduced to Reform Public Infrastructure Funding

Senator Joseph Cervantes (D-Las Cruces) and Representative Kelly Fajardo (R-Belen) introduced Senate Bill 262 during the 2017 legislative session to create a transparent, merit-based system for funding New Mexico’s essential public infrastructure projects. The bill won the support of a growing coalition of business, labor, and good government groups. After being amended to take a more gradual approach to reform, it passed the Senate 29-10 and the House Appropriations Committee unanimously. Unfortunately it ran out of time awaiting a vote of the full House.

Spending public infrastructure dollars wisely not only ensures that New Mexicans have access to safe roads and clean drinking water, but also creates 2,700 jobs for every $100 million spent – which is especially urgent considering that New Mexico leads the nation in unemployment. Learn more about this initiative and how you can get involved.

Lottery Reform Bill (and Anti-Reform Bill) Introduced

Think New Mexico’s bipartisan legislation to increase the accountability of the state lottery and send more lottery dollars to scholarships was introduced during the 2017 legislative session by Representative Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho) and Representative Javier Martínez (D-Albuquerque). House Bill 250 passed two House committees unanimously, passed the House with only a single dissenting vote, and passed the Senate Judiciary Committee unanimously. Unfortunately, it was never brought up for a hearing in the Senate Finance Committee.

Meanwhile, another bill was pushed by the multinational gaming corporations that contract with the lottery to remove the lottery’s accountability to students and reduce the dollars going to scholarships. Senate Bill 192 would have repealed Think New Mexico’s 2007 reform law requiring the lottery to deliver at least 30% of revenues to the scholarship fund.

Think New Mexico fought Senate Bill 192 at every step of its journey through the legislative process, and the final showdown came late on the final night of the session when the bill was brought up for a vote of the full House. Legislators from both parties spoke out against jeopardizing the lottery scholarship fund, and Representative Harper successfully amended all the provisions of House Bill 250 into Senate Bill 192, which meant that the bill had to go back to the Senate for senators to approve those amendments. The Senate did not bring the bill up for consideration before the session concluded, so the bill was defeated and the scholarship fund will continue to receive the full 30% of lottery revenues going forward.

Learn more about this issue and how you can get involved.

Food Tax Back on the Table in 2017!

No Food TaxOn December 15, 2016, the New Mexico Revenue Stabilization and Tax Committee considered legislation to reimpose the regressive food tax on New Mexico families (see coverage from KRQE News 13 and KOAT News 7). The food tax was presented as one piece of a much larger “tax reform” package aimed at raising revenue for the state. Yet the legislators pushing the food tax never answered one important question: how is it that 34 other states are able to balance their budgets without taxing food?

The tax package including the food tax was introduced as House Bill 412 during the 2017 session, along with several other bills that also proposed taxing food. We worked closely with a diverse coalition of other organizations and succeeded in keeping groceries tax-free for New Mexico families. Learn more about the fight against the food tax and sign up to receive email alerts about it.

Thank You for Helping Us Meet the Challenge!

Kiva ladderWe are awed and humbled by the tremendous outpouring of support we received in response to our call to help us match challenge grants that ultimately totaled $80,000.

Not only did your contributions meet the match, by the end of the campaign last night they totaled $86,540!

Including the matching grants, during this two-week fundraising drive you helped us raise more than $166,000, about 30% of Think New Mexico’s annual budget! In addition, many contributors during this fundraising drive had never given to Think New Mexico before, so we are delighted to welcome them to Think New Mexico.

Since Think New Mexico was founded in 1999, we have always worked hard to keep our fundraising expenses to an absolute minimum. That’s why we have never employed a development director or held a physical fundraising event. The success of this strategy is a testament to all of you who give so generously every year and make it possible for Think New Mexico’s small staff to focus their energies on our policy research and advocacy work.

We are deeply grateful for your support, which we take as a big vote of confidence in our newest initiative to transform the state’s dysfunctional system for financing public infrastructure, as well as our continuing work to make health care prices and quality transparent, to ensure that 30% of lottery revenues continue to be dedicated to college scholarships for New Mexico’s high school graduates, and to prevent the reimposition of the regressive food tax.

 

Think New Mexico Fights New Attempt to Reimpose the Food Tax!

foodtaxpubcoverOnce again, in 2015 and 2016 legislation was introduced to reimpose New Mexico’s regressive food tax, which Think New Mexico led the fight to repeal in 2004. Fortunately our efforts to oppose the food tax were successful and it did not pass either chamber of the legislature in 2015 or 2016. However, we expect the bill to be reintroduced in 2017. Learn more about this issue and how you can get involved!

Think New Mexico Recognized as One of the World’s Top Think Tanks

GlobalThinkTankReportFor the fourth year in a row, the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Program at the University of Pennsylvania’s International Relations Program has recognized Think New Mexico as one of the most effective think tanks in the world in the category of “Best Advocacy Campaign.” The 2015 Global Go To Think Tank Index Report, released on January 29, 2016, ranks Think New Mexico 58th in this category. We were ranked 56th in 2014, 57th in 2013 and 70th in 2012. Think New Mexico remains the only state-level think tank to make the ranking, among a distinguished list including Amnesty International, the Pew Research Center, and the Brookings Institution.

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