Like other public policy, tax policy can either advance or hinder racial and ethnic equity. It is never race-neutral. As the legislative session enters its final week, one important tax bill - HB 291 - is still being debated. There are numerous reasons to support (it raises revenue and makes our tax system more stable, among others), but one reason has particular meaning in a state where people of color comprise the majority of the population. This blog explains.
Before the coronavirus pandemic hit, New Mexico was beginning to move forward on a path to more broadly shared prosperity. The pandemic and recession seem to have put some of that progress on hold. But they don’t have to. We can continue to move in the right direction if we ensure we have adequate and sustainable revenue that is raised in a way that is fair.
While we think of Social Security as “our” money, the fact is, most seniors receive much more in Social Security benefits than they actually paid in while working. The majority of the money in your Social Security check comes from other sources.
How combining a just economic transition and strong climate action equals a safer, healthier and more equitable New Mexico
New Mexicans are already experiencing severe impacts of climate change – harming our health, air, land, water, and economy. The Climate Solutions Act (HB 9) would establish nation-leading carbon pollution reduction targets to benefit current and future generations while ensuring that all New Mexicans will benefit from the jobs and economic growth provided in a clean energy future.
While the extraction of oil and natural gas in New Mexico is mostly done on public lands, the state has less authority over the process than you might think. And while the industry puts a lot of money into our public schools, it could put a lot more money in if the state made the rules. Unfortunately, because much of the public land where drilling takes place here is actually federal land, we must rely on the federal government to set the rules.
While the oil and gas industry has brought a lot of money into New Mexico, it can also end up costing us money - lots of money. When wells no longer produce, they are abandoned. Responsible companies cap these old wells and clean up the surrounding area. But not all old wells are capped and cleaned - especially when the company has gone bankrupt. This gif-splainer lays out the problem and the solution.
Tuesday’s meeting of the Revenue Stabilization & Tax Policy Committee included a sobering reminder of the urgent need to find more stable revenue, but it also provided cause for hope – by reforming an unstable, inequitable tax structure, New Mexico can better serve the state’s children and future.
Pre-pandemic New Mexico saw a boom in oil and gas extraction, which was mirrored by an increase in state revenue. And while many state leaders opined that this boom was going to last indefinitely, the reality for the industry was far more grim. “In short,” the report states, “while New Mexico posted record oil and gas revenues, the oil and gas industry itself was reporting steep losses.”
The fact is the entire federal leasing system is dramatically outdated and in need of wholesale reform. Look no further than BLM’s New Mexico sale in August to see why someone with no experience in oil and gas development – was able to snatch up a third of the leases offered for next to nothing.
Over the past few months, the resiliency and strength of communities all across New Mexico have been in full view as people come together to support each other through the COVID-19 pandemic. Still, the pandemic has caused disproportionate harm to communities of color, worsening disparities in health and economic well-being. Just as public policies entrenched systemic racism, they can be used to dismantle it.