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Wednesday, February 02, 2011

Republicans Vote No on Bills to Help Elderly Poor and Disabled New Mexicans

HGAMPHow low can they go? The progress of two measures sponsored by Rep. Miguel Garcia (D-Albuquerque) that would aid disabled citizens and the elderly poor was halted by Republican House members in the House Voters and Elections Committee (HVEC) yesterday. Both measures would exempt persons from property tax liability if the modified gross income of the person is $15,000 or less and if the property is the primary residence of the person.

HJR 13, which fell on a 4-5 vote, addresses persons who are 100% disabled and qualify. HJR 14, which was stopped with a 5-5 tie, addresses persons 75 years of age or older who qualify, which in New Mexico would primarily consist of widows.   The weather reportedly prevented some members and advocates from attending. (See vote tallies below.)

“I was disappointed to see these important bills die in committee, Rep. Garcia said in a statement released today. "You don’t have to look any farther than Rio Grande Blvd. in Albuquerque to see all the “For Sale” signs and realize the financial hardship on our elderly, not to mention our disabled. It’s a shame to think that these poor viejitas can be displaced from their homes -- homes that they’ve been in and their families have been in for years -- simply because they can’t afford to pay their property taxes. These bills target our extremely vulnerable citizens when their incomes are fixed while the cost of living increases.”

HJR 13 proposes a constitutional amendment to the New Mexico Constitution to exempt persons that are 100% disabled from property tax liability if the modified gross income of the person is $15,000 or less and if the property is the primary residence of the person. The burden of proof lies with the person seeking the exemption and the income amount will be indexed to account for inflation.

If enacted, the legislation would provide much needed assistance to the most vulnerable sectors of New Mexico’s population. Persons qualifying would be determined as 100% disabled according to the processes used by Social Security Insurance and Workman’s Compensation, which have clear-cut systems to determine an individual’s disability in order to administer compensation and Social Security Insurance.

HJR 14 proposes a constitutional amendment to the New Mexico Constitution to exempt persons 75 years of age or older from property tax liability if the modified gross income of the person is $15,000 or less and if the property is the primary residence of the person. The burden of proof lies with the person seeking the exemption and the income amount will be indexed to account for inflation.

According to census data, 4.4% of New Mexico’s population is between 75 and 84 years of age, while 1.6% is 85 years of age or older. Approximately 70% of New Mexico residents own and occupy their homes. Approximately 30% of the population reports a modified gross income or its equivalent of less than $15,000. Therefore, roughly one percent of the state’s population would likely be eligible for the proposed exemption in HJR 14.

As Rep. Garcia explained, “It’s a basic human need and right to have shelter, and being displaced from your home due to cost-of-living increases is an injustice. If we, as legislators, don’t help our most vulnerable citizens then we aren’t serving our state.”

Gonzales: Shame on Republicans
Democratic Party of New Mexico Chairman Javier Gonzales reacted to the Republican move to block property tax relief for the elderly poor this way: "Apparently Republicans are only interested in tax cuts when they are for the wealthy. To deny impoverished seniors property tax relief is both heartless and completely out of touch. Many of New Mexico's poorest seniors are struggling to stay in their homes and just get by on fixed incomes. Rep. Garcia's bill helps keep people in their homes and maybe gives them just a little extra income to get by each month. The Republicans in the Legislature should be ashamed."

Voting Yes
Voting in support of HJR 13 were Rep. Ken Martinez (D-Grants), Rep. James Roger Madalena (D-Jemez Pueblo), Rep. Debbie Rodella (D-Española), and Rep. Mary Helena Garcia (D-Las Cruces).

Voting in support of HJR 14 were Rep. Ken Martinez (D-Grants), Rep. James Roger Madalena (D-Jemez Pueblo), Rep. Debbie Rodella (D-Española), Rep. Mary Helena Garcia (D-Las Cruces), and Rep. Danice Picraux (D-Albuquerque).

No Votes
Voting in opposition to both these bills were Rep. Thomas Anderson (R-Albuquerque), Rep. Nathaniel Gentry (R-Albuquerque), Rep. Conrad D. James (R-Albuquerque ), Rep. James E. Smith (R-Sandia Park), and Rep. Shirley A. Tyler (R-Lovington ).

Not Present
Rep. Ben Lujan (D-Santa Fe), Rep. Edward Sandoval (D-Albuquerque), Rep. Bill Rehm (R-Albuquerque).

February 2, 2011 at 05:14 PM in Economy, Populism, Housing, NM Legislature 2011, Poverty, Republican Party, Taxes | Permalink

Comments

I think this was just a PR move by Rep. Garcia. Actually this measure was rejected by the LFC.

It was Rep Garcia that introduced the bill that allowed "ILLEGALS" to obtain New Mexico drivers licenses

Posted by: Richard | Feb 3, 2011 6:41:12 AM

No such thing as "illegals." They are human beings trying to work and feed families. The drivers license law was recommended by police. The law has saved people money on car insurance-more people are insured.

Republicans must think the poor are cattle and should be butchered and eaten. That may be next as the creepy crawly Martinez supporters spread their hate around.

Posted by: Tomas | Feb 3, 2011 10:13:28 AM

Requiring driver's licences of everyone who drive is clearly practical. Hate blinds people to the correct action.
Property taxes have been used historically to take away from established families of NM.

Posted by: qofdisks | Feb 4, 2011 12:46:43 AM