Richardson vetoes Food Tax; Some legislators wish they had known in advance

Mar 24, 2010

Santa Fe, NM – The proposal, passed by lawmakers in a a special session earlier this month, would have raised about $45 million toward a $600 million budget shortfall.

Richardson said he'd promised in 2004 that the food tax exemption would be permanent, and said he wasn't willing to "put this burden on working families."

The move met with surprise from the Senate Majority Leader, Belen Democrat Michael Sanchez, who said that, as far as he knew, Richardson had not opposed the food tax idea until today.

He said lawmakers would have been more inclined to increase taxes on corporations and the wealthy had they known the food tax would be vetoed.

Senator Eric Griego, and Albuquerque Democrat, said he voted for the food tax because he was told it was the only option.

GRIEGO: "I think at the end of the day it was a terrible idea. We could have avoided the veto if we would have put a more thoughtful package together. But I think what a lot of us were forced to do was to choose between two very terrible options... one is to make $70 million in additional cuts to key services like education and health care and early childhood, or to vote for this regressive tax that hits working families. We held our nose and voted for it."

Meanwhile, Richardson signed a cigarette tax increase that adds 75 cents per pack to the price of cigarettes in New Mexico. The governor removed language from that measure that set aside $13 million of the tax fore education, and vetoed a provision that would have ended the tax after four years.