Letter To The Editor: House Bill 291 Targets Los Alamos

Los Alamos

It has been decades since we saw many bills in the state Legislature targeted at Los Alamos. Most of those were aimed at the Lab. Our state representatives worked hard to keep them at bay.

A bill advancing through this year’s legislative session would impact the whole state, but would have by far its most adverse effect on the citizens of Los Alamos. One of its three sponsors is our own state representative, Christine Chandler.

House Bill 291 would raise taxes in several ways. It would increase taxes by up to 1.6% on earned income (salaries, wages, Social Security and other pensions) on many taxpayers with annual incomes above $100,000. That happens to be the median household income in Los Alamos. For many, that would be $1000-$2,000 per year or more. Investment income would be hit much harder. Capital gains tax rates would increase, regardless of income bracket, by 67 to 122%! Yes, they would basically double. Various more subtle increases in property taxes are also facilitated by the bill.

True transparency would have this bill entitled “Sock it to Los Alamos.” Instead, it is innocuously called “Tax Changes.”

Who supposedly benefits from these “tax changes?” Much of the increases would fund hikes in the “Working Families Tax Credit” and the “Low Income Comprehensive Tax Rebate.” The rest would simply disappear into the state general fund.

According to Rep. Chandler, the proposed tax credits would “help families work their way out of poverty and into the middle class.” (https://ladailypost.com/new-mexico-tax-fairness-reform-bill-heads-to-house-floor/) How many times have we heard that, from both State and Federal politicians, in the past half-century? Band-aids are politically attractive, but don’t address root problems.

True economic prosperity – for an individual, a family, a community, state, or nation – is based on producing useful goods and services.For individuals and families, that means having the education, meaningful employment opportunities, and ability and willingness to be productive. Government can do little about the latter. It can improve the former two. Nothing in this bill would improve our antiquated and hide-bound public education system or make New Mexico less unattractive to job-creating businesses. In other words, it would do nothing to actually “help families work their way out of poverty . . ..”

Our Legislature could use its time and our money much more effectively working to truly reform and modernize our education system and business climate. Those pursuits would be harder and less visible, of course, but could actually elevate the state out of its perennial last place rankings.