Friday, February 24, 2012
We gots to get this bill signed! SB9
Great creative video from ClearlySK. Describing the SB9 bill and how important it is for Governor Susana Martinez to sign it into law. Keep our tax dollars here in New Mexico.
When life hands you lemons, make those lemons pay their fair share in taxes.
Senator Dede Feldman Will Not Seek Re-election in Senate District 13
Special Message and Post Session Wrap up from Dede
Dear Friends, Neighbors and Constituents,
Sixteen years ago I ran for the New Mexico Senate using a theme, “A Passion for the Possible.” I have worked hard to keep that passion alive and push the envelope when it comes to affordable health care, good government, consumer and environmental protection. I’ve had my share of victories and defeats. I count my successes by the scores—a Do-Not-Call bill, a Fund for People with Brain Injuries, a Nurse Advice Line, lower prescription drug prices, controls on health insurance companies, a statewide water plan, and several laws to control campaign spending and provide open government.
Now it is time for me to move on into new fields, and clear the way for someone new to carry the torch for Senate District 13 in Santa Fe. I have been honored and humbled to serve the people of the North Valley—and beyond. Some of my most satisfying moments have come in partnership with my constituents, working on common problems and giving you an opportunity to participate in important decisions that should be decided by citizens, not just office holders. In a democracy, after all, citizens are the highest office holders. And so, I am not stepping down as much as branching out into the real world outside of the Roundhouse.
But don’t expect me to keep quiet or vanish from the scene. Much has yet to be done.
I believe that every person has a project whether they are conscious of it or not. It’s the thing that drives you, that defines you and gives your life meaning. My project has been to give ordinary people a voice in what goes on in this country, to leave things a little better than I found them and to give back, to make available to others some of the economic opportunities, some of the educational benefits that this country has offered to me.
I have focused on what I considered to be the greatest injustice: Health Care. Martin Luther King said it best: “Of all the forms of inequality, injustice in health care is the most shocking and inhumane.”
I will continue this focus in writing and journalism projects, a renewal of my communications company, and support for the causes I hold dear. I will still be walking the streets and talking the talk for candidates I believe in, and who knows, someday I may become one again. But now I must move on. I will be on the job throughout the remainder of my term, which ends in Jan. 2013. You will hear from me regularly with updates about state and local issues, campaigns and opportunities for action. I will step up my blog and continue my e-mail newsletter. And stay tuned. I am working on a book, hopefully out next year, on how the New Mexico legislature really works.
After the Dust Has Settled Wrap-Up
It wasn’t just me who thought things were a bit slow. Only 77 bills passed the legislature this time—the fewest for a short session since 1976.
Among the good ones were several Memorials that don’t require the Gov.’s signature. One to recommend that the US Constitution be amended to overturn Citizens’ United, another for a study of a basic health care plan for low-income folks.
Three constitutional amendments will be on the ballot to clean up the PRC by removing the insurance division and the corporations’ registry, and requiring commissioners to meet basic educational standards.
Two good bills are now on the Governor’s desk—call 505-476-2200 to urge her to sign them.
1) SB 9 closes tax loopholes enjoyed by out-of-state “big-box” stores and levels the playing field for small businesses. It also actually lowers the corporate income tax rate slightly.
2) HB 74 stops the Conservancy District from requiring absentee ballots to be notarized to be valid in their elections. The practice has discouraged voters and depressed turnout in elections that fly below the radar screen.
Good bills that died: Sen. Jennings’ compromise on Drivers’ Licenses; Sen. Wirth’s measure to require transparency for “Super Pac” contributions; my bill to ban fireworks in time of extreme fire danger; Sen. Bernadette Sanchez’ bill to stem the rising tide of heroin and prescription drug overdoses; a bill banning legislators from immediately becoming lobbyists; Sen. Michael Sanchez’ bill to make home foreclosures fairer, and Rep. Brian Egoff’s tax credit for energy efficient home purchases and green renovations of foreclosed properties.
Thank you once again for the opportunity to serve you. It has been a high point of my life.
With a heavy heart—but confidence in our community,
Sen. Dede Feldman
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Governor Martinez, Can't You See the Elephant in the Room?
From ProgressNow New Mexico.
"We can do so much more to level the playing field for our small businesses, to put more New Mexicans back to work."
-Governor Susana Martinez, 2012 State of the State Address
Earlier today, Governor Martinez signed into law her self-described "Major Tax Reform Package" that benefits her campaign donors while costing state and local governments $50 million per year in lost revenue. Noticeably absent from this "major" package of bills is SB9, the bi-partisan legislation that would lower the tax burden on all of New Mexico's most successful businesses.
SB9 is now the infamous "elephant in the room," as it represents the most common-sense measure to level the playing field for New Mexico businesses, but is one the governor has yet to sign. SB9 would close the egregious tax loophole that allows "big box" stores like Best Buy to pay a lower tax rate than established local businesses like Baillio's. Unlike the bills Martinez signed today, SB9 is a revenue neutral bill that would reward our most successful businesses by lowering their corporate income tax rate, thus allowing them to create new jobs and invest in our local communities.
Instead of ensuring local businesses have a fair marketplace in which to compete, the tax bills Governor Martinez signed today will reduce taxes exclusively for the construction and manufacturing sectors, two industries that contributed almost $900,000 to Martinez's gubernatorial campaign. These contributions included more than $350,000 from home builder Bob Perry, her single largest individual donor.
"The legislature gave the governor the tools to reward every successful New Mexico business, not just those who can afford to give the biggest political donations. Let's hope that the governor does the right thing and signs SB9 into law as part of her next tax reform package," says Pat Davis, Executive Director of ProgressNow New Mexico.
Monday, February 20, 2012
Where We Go from Here - Stay Involved
The following video and recap is from OLE NM - Here are some thoughts from just a few of the parents who spent countless hours at the Legislature this past month, fighting for Early Education.
We must stay involved, it does make a difference. It is for the children. Our future. Si Se Puede!
Dozens of OLE members and allies stayed at the Legislature late into the night on Feb. 15th to watch the Senate Finance Committee vote down our proposed Constitutional Amendment to save Early Education with money from the State's Land Grant Permanent Fund. The vote was 6 to 5, with Senators John Arthur Smith, Mary Kay Papen, Sue Wilson Beffort, Carroll Leavell, Rod Adair, and Steven Neville opposing the bill.
Please call and thank the Senators who supported the bill:
Senator Howie Morales,(505)986-4863
Senator Gerry Ortiz y Pino,(505)986-4380
Senator Nancy Rodriguez,(505)986-4264
Senator Carlos Cisneros,(505)986-4362
Senator Pete Campos,(505)986-4311
This defeat certainly means parents, kids, and early educators still have tough months ahead, but it does not mean this fight is over. Scores of our parents and kids from all over the state spent countless hours at the legislature and on the phone, talking to legislators. We passed 4 committees, twice as many as we did in 2011. We turned several key "No" votes into "Yeses." We are stronger, wiser, better known, and better positioned now to save Early Education by pursuing other actions and continuing to press this proposal next year
Session's Over, How Are The Children? Recap of the 2012 NM Legislative Session
The following recap is from the NM Voices for Children.
Early Care and Education
Despite great support from across the state, two joint resolutions (HJR-15, Rep. Rick Miera and SJR-9, Sens. Michael Sanchez and Cynthia Nava) that would have allowed voters to fund early learning programs out of the Land Grant Permanent Fund, did not survive the committee process. A small amount of new funding for early learning programs was added to the annual budget, but it only brings overall funding back to 2010 levels. (See funding breakout below.) Sadly, these critical programs and services still receive about 1% of the state’s $5.6 billion general fund.
Medicaid received an increase in funding, but it was only enough to cover inflation. Enrollment for children has remained flat, but no new funding was added to enroll more eligible but uninsured children. Our thanks to Rep. Ray Begaye for his hard work on this issue. The Developmental Disabilities Waiver did get an increase of $2.7 million to help provide services to some of those on the waiting list.
Legislation to create the state’s health insurance exchange (required by the Affordable Care Act) did not pass. You may recall, a compromise exchange bill passed in the last session but Governor Martinez vetoed it. The Governor still plans to set up the exchange through executive action, which the Legislature is likely to oppose. A number of Memorials asking for studies or oversight did pass, but do not carry the weight of law.
Closing the Corporate Income Tax Loophole
A perennial bill (SB-9, Sen. Peter Wirth) to close a loophole that multi-state corporations can use to avoid paying income tax on their New Mexico profits finally passed! Unfortunately, it was amended so that it applies only to big-box retailers, which means some of the worst offenders—big banks—will still be able to take their self-appointed tax breaks. Still, this bill does help to level the playing field for local businesses and also lowers the corporate tax rate for everyone by .1%. The Governor has threatened to veto this important legislation, so please CALL her office (505-476-2200) and urge her to SIGN it!
Bills We Supported
- A joint resolution (HJR-28, Rep. Miguel Garcia) to place a constitutional amendment on the ballot, allowing voters to have the state's minimum wage increase with inflation failed.
- Legislation (SB-1, Sen. Michael Sanchez) that would have provided additional consumer protections for homeowners facing foreclosure failed.
- Memorials urging Congress to correct the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision passed. New Mexico is the second state to pass such legislation.
Bills We Opposed
- Several bills to require voter photo identification failed.
- Attempts to repeal of the law allowing undocumented immigrants to get a driver’s license failed.
- Legislation to reinstate the death penalty failed.
- Legislation to redefine marriage in order to prohibit same-sex marriage failed.
- Legislation to enact a Single Sales Factor Formula for computing corporate income taxes failed.
- Legislation that provides a tax break for the construction and manufacturing industries—and could cost the state $31 million over two years—passed.
- New Mexico’s state SNAP (Food Stamps) supplement was appropriated enough money to provide a minimum of $25 in additional benefits.
- The food bank fresh produce distribution program got an increase of $100,000.
- Native American Youth suicide prevention programs got $100,000.
- The Housing Trust Fund got an additional $3 million.
- The TANF program (Temporary Assistance to Needy Families) got $700,000 to restore work-related expenses for TANF clients.
ECE Funding Breakout
- NM Pre-K received $4.6 million in additional funds, split between CYFD and PED.
- Home visiting/parent coaching received an additional $1 million.
- Child care assistance received an additional $3.6 million, enough to serve an estimated 800 of the 5,900 children on the waiting list.
- The T.E.A.C.H. scholarship program received an additional $150,000.
Thank you for all your phone calls this session and for your ongoing support of NM Voices' work to prioritize kids and families in our state!
Sunday, February 19, 2012
An Open Letter to New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez
From Independent Source PAC:
We all share the desire to improve public education. While your political machine will seek to spin your agenda’s failure, it will not work just as the robo calls and email blasts failed during the session.
Senator Linda Lopez’s education bill included an extensive remediation process to ensure proficiency in not only reading, but math as well. It encouraged parental involvement in a child’s education and did not punish children who are English language learners or who simply don’t test well.
What Senator Lopez’s bill lacked was vindictiveness, no punishing children or their parents because they have more difficulty than other children in attaining proficiency. It also lacked politicization. Had you been willing to strike an appropriate compromise with Ms. Lopez, you would have had the remediation program you claimed was at the heart of your bill. And we all would have supported it.
You were sold a bill of goods about the Florida education agenda. It is wrong for New Mexico. It is not tailored to our divergent culture and laws. Its only goal was to score political points nationally with the privatizers.
The same holds true for your choice of education secretary. All of your other appointments were confirmed. She had over a year to learn about New Mexico and its minority-‐majority population, its unique bilingual history and laws and to reach out to those stakeholders to involve them in the education reform process.
She did not.
As Representative Begaye so eloquently said your bill went“ against the principal of the belief of native people, that a community makes a child whole. Where everyone comes together. It will make the child think he's a failure.”
Ms. Skandera sought to shut parents out of the education process in conflict with the Indian Education Act and the Hispanic Education Act, both of which are unique to New Mexico. She eliminated the rural education bureau, the education technologies bureau and decimated the bilingual education bureau and the Indian Education Division. Such things apparently were not important to her, and you went along with it.
There is a difference between political campaigns, with their robo calls and email blasts, and governance. A willingness to punish eight-‐year-‐old kids and their young parents has no place in governance.
Thursday, February 16, 2012
NM House of Rep Press Release of Highlights as of 1:07 a.m Feb. 16, 2012
- House Bill 190 (Capital Outlay) has passed the House by a vote of 66-2. More details to follow.
- House Bill 191 (Capital Outlay) has passed the House by a vote of 63-4. The substitute for HB191, authorizes approximately $129.8 million from severance tax bond capacity and approximately $6.9 million from other state funds for various capital outlay projects statewide. The bill contains an emergency clause. In addition, the bill authorizes expending $30 million from severance tax bond capacity in fiscal years 2013 and 2012.
- House Bill 258 sponsored by Rep. Edward Sandoval (D-Bernalillo, Dist. 17) has passed the House by a vote of 40-12 as amended. HB258 provides for a review of “economically targeted” income tax credits. The reporting would begin in 2014. HB 258 now goes to the Senate.
- House Memorial 70 sponsored by Rep. Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Bernalillo, Dist. 16) has cleared the House by a vote of 61-0. HM70 requests an examination of different interpretations of basic sentences and fines imposed for noncapital felony offenses.
- By a vote of 36-33, the substitute for Senate Bill 9 as amended has passed the House. SB9 carried by Rep. Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe, Dist. 47) institutes mandatory combined corporate income tax reporting for “big box” retailers. The target archetype is “a unitary corporation that provides retail sales in a facility of more than thirty thousand square feet under one roof.”
- Senate Bill 59 as amended has passed the House by a vote of 66-0. SB 59 carried by Rep. Ken Martinez (D-Cibola, McKinley, San Juan, Dist. 69) in the House provides that the murder of a child under thirteen years of age is an aggravating circumstance for purposes of capital felony sentencing.
Senate Action on House Legislation
- House Bill 97 sponsored by Rep. Ben Lujan (D-Santa Fe, Dist. 46) has passed in the Senate by a vote of 37-1. HB97 revises the State Procurement Code to establish a resident veteran preference of five percent over and above the current resident business preference of five percent. The bill defines relevant terms and provides requirements to document veteran status.
- House Bill 14 sponsored by Rep. Mimi Stewart has passed the Senate by a vote of 34-0. HB14 establishes the six-year “K-3 Plus” pilot project as a permanent program in the Public Education Department to provide funding for additional educational time for disadvantaged students, as measured by free or reduced-fee eligibility, in kindergarten through third grade.
- House Joint Memorial 13 sponsored by Rep. Gail Chasey (D-Bernalillo, Dist. 18) has passed the Senate by a vote of 33-0. HJM13 asks the N.M. Legislative Council to appoint an interim legislative low-income energy assistance task force to study ways to provide additional energy assistance for low-income customers and to report its findings and recommendations.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
In a Bi-Partisan Vote, House Judiciary Passes Senate Bill 9: Combined Reporting, Moves to House Floor
Today, Senate Bill 9, closing tax loopholes for out-of-state corporations, passed out of the House Judiciary Committee for the first time in the 8 years since Senator Wirth first introduced the bill.
SB9 was amended to focus only on big-box stores and drop the corporate income tax rate to 7.5 percent.
We believe this is an important and positive step toward a level playing field.
PLEASE CALL YOUR REPRESENTATIVE NOW and urge them to support a level playing field for New Mexico's small business. The session ends TOMORROW at noon.
Want to know who your Representative is? Find out here by entering your zip code+4.
You can be connected to your State legislator by calling the switchboard at: (505) 986-4300.
EDITORIAL FROM 2/15/12 ALBUQUERQUE JOURNAL
New Mexico is known for going it alone, often with negative results. For example, take the recently struck down cap and trade regulation imposed during the Richardson administration.
New Mexico is the only Western state with a corporate income tax that doesn't require big businesses that are based in another state to file corporate taxes here using "combined reporting." That means such corporations would have to combine earnings from all of its subsidiaries, regardless of location, and pay New Mexico corporate income tax based on a portion of its combined earnings. Businesses now have the option of filing state taxes on income related to in-state operations or on its combined corporate income.
Proponents of combined reporting say the current code allows corporations to shift income to states with lower tax rates to reduce liability. For the past few years, legislation to change what proponents call a tax loophole has been introduced but has failed to pass.
This year's version, SB 9, sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, would lower the top corporate tax rate from 7.6 percent to 7.5 percent, to offset the requirement that more corporations pay taxes to the state. The bill was amended so that only "big box" retailers - stores of more than 30,000 square feet under one roof - would have to file with combined reporting.
Opponents have argued the change would discourage big businesses from locating in New Mexico. However, amendments adopted this year address that, for instance, by exempting manufacturers like Intel. In fact, it targets retailers like Walmart and Target that will locate here in any case because there is a customer base for their products.
If the change will lower corporate income taxes across the board and make the tax code more equitable, it merits serious - and nonpartisan - consideration.
This editorial first appeared in the Albuquerque Journal. It was written by members of the editorial board and is unsigned as it represents the opinion of the newspaper rather than the writers.
Tuesday, February 14, 2012
$5.65 Billion Budget Passed in the New Mexico Legislature
Amended Budget Passes In the House
$5.652 Billion Plan Heads to the Governor
The House of Representatives has passed a budget for the next spending year that begins July 2012. HB2, 3, 4, 5, 6 would provide $5.652 billion in state spending, an increase of $220 million (4 percent) over this year’s budget. The spending plan leaves $37 million to allow for additional legislation such as tax reductions, pension solvency, infrastructure funding, or as a hedge against weak natural gas prices.
Under the amended budget, education gets the bulk of the budget:
- $2.45 billion dollars goes to Public Education
- $757.8 million dollars goes to Higher Education and special schools
Other amendments to HB2, 3, 4, 5, 6 include:
- $5.2 million added for drug courts, juror pay, the aging network, reducing the DD waiver waiting list and domestic violence programs.
- $12.8 million of special and supplemental appropriations added - including $6.5 million for public education, $3 million for the Housing Trust Fund administered by the Mortgage Finance Authority, $1.5 million for an assessment of microwave towers, and $500 thousand more for the Secretary of State to administer the 2012 primary election.
- Provides authority to transfer $55 million from the general fund operating reserve in FY13 to cover a revenue shortfall.
Rep. Luciano “Lucky” Varela (D-Santa Fe, Dist.48), Deputy Chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee (HAFC), said, “The changes made by the Senate were not significant in terms of dollar amounts. The only area of small concern is opening up language that gives broad authority for the Executive to increase budgets from other funds.”
Chair of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee (HAFC), Rep. Henry “Kiki” Saavedra (D-Bernalillo, Valencia, Dist. 10) said, “This budget plan will keep us in good shape for the next fiscal year and gives us a slim cushion should expected revenues fall short. It is gratifying to work in such collaboration with my colleagues in the House, Senate and with the Governor.”
Approving a budget is the main legislative task during a 30-day session. The budget plan now goes to the Governor for consideration.
Here's What Happened in the New Mexico House Today; Feb. 14, 2012
- The House of Representatives has passed a budget for the next spending year, beginning July 2012. HB 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 would provide $5.652 billion in state spending, an increase of $220 million (4 percent) over this year’s budget. The spending plan leaves $37 million to allow for additional legislation such as tax reductions, pension solvency, infrastructure funding, or as a hedge against weak natural gas prices. The budget plan now goes to the Governor.
- A compromise bill between House Bill 249 and 251 has passed the House by a vote of 57-9. The compromise bill creates a new evaluation system for teachers, principals, and head administrators. It uses a variety of measures that meaningfully connect student growth and achievement to teacher effectiveness. The compromise bill heads to the Senate.
- House Memorial 67 was passed by a vote of 69-0. Rep. Sheryl Stapleton (D – Bernalillo, Dist. 19) introduced the memorial requesting the creation of a comprehensive strategic education plan to eliminate the achievement gap and increase the graduation rates of Hispanic, Native American and African American students. HM 67 goes to the Senate.
- The House passed HB 100 by a vote of 63 – 1. The act repeals the delayed repeal of the charter school capital outlay fund. Rep. Ray Begaye (D – San Juan – 4) introduced the bill on behalf of the Public School Capital Outlay Oversight Task Force and the Legislative Education Study Committee. The bill heads to the Senate.
- Senate Bill 196 as amended passed the House unanimously. The bill was originally introduced by Senator Cynthia Nava (D – Doña Ana – 31). It purposes to make the New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired and the New Mexico School for the Deaf eligible for Public School Capital Outlay Act funding. The bill heads for the Governor’s desk.
- Senate Memorial 85 was passed unanimously in the Senate. SM 85 honors Speaker of the House Ben Lujan who is retiring at the end of his term. Almost every Senator in the chamber stood up to share a story, express appreciation, offer prayers, and praise Speaker Lujan who has served in the Legislature since 1975. At the beginning of the 30-day session, Speaker Lujan announced he was being treated for lung cancer.
HIRE Initiative, Tax Bills Pass Senate
Several of the bills included in the Democratic Caucus's HIRE Initiative and Tax Initiative passed out of the Senate this week and will be sent to the House. Senate Bills 9, 145, 16 and 311 were all focused on helping small businesses grow, and many received bipartisan support.
"These bills are all steps in making it easier to help the state have a fair tax code," Senator Michael Sanchez said. "From getting New Mexico graduates hired, to making sure that businesses invest in the state and pay their fair share of taxes these bills make sure that fairness is the preeminent concept in our legislation."
Senate Bill 9, sponsored by Senator Peter Wirth, focuses on lowering the overall corporate tax rate for businesses, and making sure that out of state “big box” corporations pay the same rate as in state ones. This piece of legislation would be revenue neutral.
Senate Bill 145, sponsored by Senator Tim Eichenberg, was passed on Sunday, February 12, and would maintain the three percent increase limit on property taxes, which would ease the burden on New Mexicans looking to buy a new home.
Senator Tim Keller's Senate Bill 16 will provide an incentive to businesses that hire graduate and professional students in the science, technology, engineering and health fields and will strategically implement job opportunities in line with the higher education priorities of the State of New Mexico.
Senate Bill 311, sponsored by Senator John Sapien, would require additional investment in New Mexico by companies to then qualify for a tax credit against their corporate income tax. It would be tiered and correlated to the amount they invest in New Mexico—the more they invest in the state, the longer they can claim the credit. There is a sunset on the bill that would cease the tax credit in 2021.
"This bill is designed to give businesses in the manufacturing industry a credit," Senator Sapien said. "But only when there is a demonstrable investment in their communities. We are looking to reward actual performance rather than promises.”
House Passes HB 249/251: Teacher and Principal Evaluations
The House passed a compromise plan to evaluate teachers and principals across the state by a vote of 57-9. The bill combines many proposals that were submitted, including that of Rep. Rick Miera (D – Bernalillo – 11). The result that will now head to the Senate is a combination between the House Labor and Human Resources Committee Substitute for House Education Committee Substitute for HB 249 and House Education Committee Substitute for HB 251.
The committee substitute will create a working council to develop a comprehensive teacher and principal evaluation system that ties a number of measures and factors to teacher and principal effectiveness.
Rep. Miera said, “The state teacher and principal effectiveness evaluation system shall include a focus on measures of student growth and achievement that are valid and reliable, common and uniform, and not solely based on a single state assessment.”