Martinez’s Choice: Support The Citizens of New Mexico or Her Corporate Backers?

Five thousand signatures were delivered to Gov. Susana Martinez’s

office Thursday morning, each in support of her signing Sen. Peter

Wirth’s bill to close a tax loophole for out-of-state corporations

operating in New Mexico.

Martinez’s director of constituent services, Henry Varela, spoke

outside her top-floor office at the Roundhouse, to a group of the

bill’s supporters. A running tally of correspondence with the

governor’s office (emails and phone calls) has about 2,300 people

calling in support of the bill, Varela said, and 1,700 who want it

vetoed.

In an Albuquerque Journal article published Thursday, Martinez

suggested the support might be phony.

“When you get an email that is a cut-and-paste and it’s the same thing

over and over,” she told the Journal, “you have to wonder if it’s the

same person sending it under various names or if it’s a true

constituent.”

Pat Davis with ProgressNow New Mexico said Thursday he has requested

documentation from the governor’s office to substantiate the

pro-versus-con figures being provided.

Interestingly, Susana PAC has engaged in robo calling in legislative

districts to support certain issues like illegal-immigrant drivers

licenses and third-grade retention.

Miles Conway, of the Communication Workers of America, told Varela

that each of the 5,000 signatures in the petition delivered Thursday

morning represents legitimate support: “These are sheer numbers. These

are real people. They’re not robo calls.”

Senate Bill 9 requires “combined reporting” of income tax returns for

big-box retailers (stores of more than 30,000 square feet) operating

outside New Mexico. Right now, a company like Best Buy can avoid

paying state income tax here by shipping profits to another location

in a state without corporate income taxes. Local businesses, who

operate solely in New Mexico, don’t have that option.

Wirth got the bill passed at the most recent legislative session after

trying unsuccessfully for the previous seven years.

Martinez has said she would veto the bill, but backed off from that

stance recently. Varela told SB9’s supporters she was still deciding

whether to sign or not.

“She makes a point not only to see who calls in, but to dig into the

bill and see how it will effect New Mexico,” he said.

Corporate lobbyists spoke against SB9 during the legislature, claiming

it would be a job killer in New Mexico if passed.

Wirth has argued that businesses won’t leave the state if they have to

pay the same tax as New Mexico companies. His bill also lowers the

state’s overall corporate income tax rate from 7.6 to 7.5 percent.

MoveOn.org organizer Steven Mayes said the bill is a “win-win-win”

because it lowers the tax rate, broadens the tax base, and generates

additional income for state services.

The outpouring of support also reflects a broader argument taking

place throughout the country, he said.

“It’s a 99-versus-one-percent argument for us,” he said, echoing the

Occupy Wall Street movement.

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