By Ted Alcorn, New Mexico In Depth
Feb. 22, 2023
A bill that would raise state alcohol taxes for the first time in 30 years is in the hands of Democrats, who have a firm hold on both legislative chambers. But a major obstacle to passing the legislation is the concern voiced by some of their members about how an alcohol tax hike would affect low-income New Mexicans.
In an interim legislative meeting In October, Rep. Susan Herrera, a Democrat whose district in northern New Mexico has a higher share of residents in poverty than the state, said she refers to levies on alcohol and tobacco as ‘poor man’s taxes’ rather than as ‘sin taxes’.
“Not that I think poor people sin more than rich people,” she said, prompting laughter from her colleagues, “I just think they pay more for their sins.”
Business interests and conservatives are making the argument, too. On Monday as the House Taxation and Revenue Committee discussed House Bill 230, which would raise state alcohol taxes to a quarter a drink, Sam DeWitt of the national Brewers Association tarred the proposal as “regressive.”
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