April 24, 2005

Richardson's Taxes

Many of you have called or e-mailed asking for an update on the Richardson tax record now that the 2005 legislative session has ended. Unfortunately, around mid-November, my computer had a major malfunction. We have had only intermittent service since then. Except for very limited releases and a few new items on www.rodadair.com, all publications have been suspended for the past five months. We expect to be up and running by April 20. Meanwhile a few of you will receive this update.

Below are tables explaining Richardson's tax record in his first three years. The governor took office on January 1, 2003 at the mid-year point of Fiscal Year 2003.

His first legislative session was January - March 2003. That session's tax changes went into effect Fiscal Year 2004, which began on July 1, 2003. The legislative session that ended this past March 19, and for which bills were signed or vetoed by April 8, fixed new taxes and tax reductions for FY 2006. FY 2006 begins July 1, 2005 and ends June 30, 2006.

The figures shown below are cumulative and reflect the total tax record for three full fiscal years, through Fiscal Year 2006. So at this point we can see the full effect of Richardson's tax policies through June 30, 2006 -- 3½ years into his first term.

Governor Richardson is a net tax-increaser by a substantial margin -- $174 Million. Furthermore, there is nothing he can possibly do to reverse his upside-down position until the 2006 legislative session, next January. This means that if he is ever to become a tax- cutting governor, he cannot possibly do that until FY 2007, which begins July 1, 2006 and ends on June 30, 2007, a full six months into what would be his second term (or possibly the first six months of his retirement).

Table 1 - Governor Richardson's Tax Reductions
Income Tax  $ 242 Million
Food & Medical Services Gross Receipts Tax 209 Million
Capital Gains Tax 30 Million
Unemployment Tax    61 Million
Miscellaneous tax reductions 25 Million
Total Tax Reductions, FY 2004 and 2005 $ 567 Million

Table 2 - Governor Richardson's Tax Increases
Gross Receipts Tax increase, non food items
$210 Million
Insurance Premium on Medicaid
96 Million
Gasoline tax  
19 Million
Special fuels tax (diesel)
28 Million
Redefinition of "Residency" 
12 Million
Cigarette Tax 
137 Million
Out-of-state oil and gas tax  
3 Million
Increase vehicle registration fees 
48 Million
Nursing Home Bed Tax   
45 Million
Weight/Distance Fee increase for trucks/trans.
48 Million
Delay income tax cuts (2006 tax year)
33 Million
Health Insurance Premiums Tax increases
36 Million
Pharmaceutical Business license fees
6 Million
NM Livestock Board Fees
3 Million
Property Tax, county general health
2 Million
Gasoline Distributors Tax 
4 Million
Miscellaneous Taxes and fees
11 Million
Total Tax Increases, FY 2004 and 2005
$ 741 Million

Table 3 - Total Net Tax Changes     FY 2004 through 2006
Total Tax Increases FY 2004 through 2006
$  741  Million
Total Tax Reductions FY 2004 through 2006
- 567  Million
Total Net Tax increases FY 2004 through 2006 
= $ 174  Million

Kudos to the Albuquerque Journal

An April 5, 2005 article in the Albuquerque Journal marked the first time, to our knowledge, that the state's biggest newspaper has published an accurate story regarding Governor Richardson's record on taxation.

The story, with reporter David Miles on the byline, contained the following passage:

"A Legislative Council Service analysis requested by Adair says state taxes and fees will have increased by $740.8 million from the time Richardson took office in 2003 through the next fiscal year, which ends June 30, 2006...The analysis also shows $566.7 million* in state tax decreases, for a net tax and fee increase of $174.1 million. The analysis includes the effect of the most recent tax measure."

This is significant because previous references to Richardson's tax increases have been treated by the Journal, among other media outlets, as mere "opinions." This was the case even in instances where reporters had contacted the Legislative Council Service, the Legislative Finance Committee or economists and had verified the figures. This is remarkable in that it shows the degree to which the New Mexico media have been loath to do or say anything "critical" of the future presidential candidate. (There have been exceptions, as we have noted before, including Walt Rubel of the Gannett News Service, Steve Terrell of the Santa Fe New Mexican, and Christopher Cunningham of the Roswell Daily Record who have all published straightforward analyses that held forth the information as documented fact.)

Contrast the Albuquerque Journal article by David Miles with the same day coverage by the Associated Press. AP articles around the state ran under headlines touting the governor's "tax-cutting" record relief and heralding yet a new round of "tax cuts." No mention was made of Richardson's overall record on tax. The national media would be left to conclude that the "tax-cutting" (which has never happened to start with) is "continuing."

*Figures are the correct ones cited in the April 5 story and the subsequent correction on April 6.

Posted by Wayne at April 24, 2005 10:10 PM