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
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
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.