by Jeannie Nguyen, KRQE News 13
December 15, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Soon, you could be paying more for groceries and lawmakers say it’s part of a plan to boost the state’s economy.

It’s been about ten years since New Mexicans had to pay taxes on food. In a meeting Thursday, Representatives Bill McCamley and Jason Harper introduced a bill to bring back the food tax.

It’s all part of a plan to re-balance the tax code to fit the modern economy. They promise the overall effect won’t increase tax revenue for the state.

“We’re doing it in a revenue neutral way, so we’re not raising taxes, we’re basically re-distributing out the system,” said Rep. Harper.

The food tax would be offset by reductions on income, property and corporate taxes to name a few. However, shoppers we talked to hate the idea.

“It’s just a way to pick more poor people’s pockets. I definitely am against it,” said Paul Bonness.

“Some people can certainly pay it without any problem, most people can’t. I think it makes it nicer for New Mexico to not have it,” said Bob O’Neal.

Representative McCamley says people need to remember, other taxes will be significantly less.

“What happens is that at the very very least, you come out even,” said Rep. Bill McCamley.” Because you’re getting the same amount of money you would’ve spent on food tax anyway through this program, but you got to remember you’re paying less of a tax on everything else that you’re buying.”

Organizations like New Mexico Voices for Children warn a tax like this would ultimately hurt families.

“We know already that over a quarter of our children are food insecure, number one,” said James Jimenez, Executive Director. “Number two, New Mexicans have shown that they simply don’t support taxing food. It’s not the right way to raise revenue for our state.”

But Representative Harper insists his goal is to help New Mexicans with a plan they say will boost the economy.

“We’re being very cognizant, and we’re not going to be hurting those folks that are suffering right now,” said Harper. “We’re actually making a conscious effort to help them.”

The proposal is still in the early stages. They haven’t finished writing the bill and they are unsure when it would go to vote. If the bill does pass, the tax on food would be around 4%.

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