Statement from James Jimenez
about Ronchetti Tax Plan
Gubernatorial Candidate Mark Ronchetti’s recently released campaign tax plan would be disastrous for New Mexico. Below is the response from James Jimenez, the Executive Director of the NMVC Action Fund.
Let’s be clear, Mark Ronchetti’s plan is wrong for New Mexico. This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Using one-time revenues to fund permanent tax cuts is unsustainable, misguided, and short-sighted. In fact, hisnumbers just don’t make sense. The Ronchetti plan proposes permanent tax cuts – personal income taxes and gross receipts taxes – and rebates that in just the first year exceed $2 billion, which is about 25% of the state budget. This is two billion that we won’t have in future years, so where is this money coming from?
At the same time he plans to slash state revenues, he also proposes significant new spending for education, infrastructure, incentives for business, investments in state parks, and his border strike force. Slashing income and increasing spending, as all families know, inevitably leads to financial instability.
Based on the current official state revenue estimates, the tax cuts and rebates would conservatively exceed $2 billion every year. So over four years, the plan costs $8.2 billion. To put that into context, these cuts and rebates would be roughly equal to the current state budget, which is $8.4 billion. So, unless some magic happens over those four years, the state budget would have to be irresponsibly cut. The specific programs the legislature would have to cut are not some “black hole” as Ronchetti suggests. Rather they are the very programs that people depend on like public education, higher education, health care, public safety, and environmental protection. These plans reflect little knowledge of how the state’s most essential services - education, public safety, and health care - are funded. It doesn’t take a budget expert to know that this plan can’t and won’t work.
Further, these plans do nothing to curb our state’s reliance on oil and gas revenue. They do the opposite by making New Mexico even more reliant on these highly volatile revenues. Times might be great now for these revenues, but our history and legislative research shows this is not sustainable. A crash always follows high prices and production, and when the crash hits, both New Mexico’s budget and family budgets will take a hit. This would be a double whammy for the families who struggle the most. Ultimately the Ronchetti plan will squander New Mexico’s historic opportunity to make meaningful investments in our state's kids. We should use these funds to rebuild New Mexico's behavioral health system, build housing that families can afford, update schools with modern technology, put more councilors, nurses, and special education professionals into schools, fully fund childcare, update basic infrastructure like roads, sewers, broadband, and bridges. All these strategies would significantly impact kids’ lives across our state, and helping kids helps our economy.
James Jimenez has extensive leadership experience in nonprofit, state, and municipal government sectors. Currently, he is the Executive Director of the NMVC Action Fund. He previously served as Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children. In state government, Jimenez has served as Chief of Staff to New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson and Cabinet Secretary of the New Mexico Department of Finance and Administration. At the state’s Legislative Finance Committee, he served as Economist and Supervisor of the Performance Audit Unit.
The NMVC Action Fund is a 501(c)4 organization based in New Mexico working to advance policies and leadership that support concrete improvements in the well-being of New Mexico’s children, including issues such as early childhood and public school education; children’s healthcare; children’s food security; and children’s safety; and children’s economic well-being. A list of endorsements is below and can also be found at www.nmvcaf.org/endorsements.