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New Mexico governor pushes pro-business message in Denver

Source: The Denver Post

At a time when Colorado is weighing a ballot measure to raise state income-tax rates to fund education, New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez offered a message in Denver on Wednesday on the benefits of lowering them.

Martinez, speaking before the annual meeting luncheon of the Colorado Association of Commerce and Industry, said she inherited a $450 million deficit after taking over in January 2011.

The pressure was intense, including from fellow Republicans, to put aside campaign promises to deal with the largest shortfall in state history.

“Raising taxes simply wasn’t an option,” she said.

She eliminated state-issued cellphones and cars except when necessary, cut the number of politically appointed positions and lowered state contributions to pension plans.

She sold off the luxury jet used by her predecessor, Bill Richardson, along with four other planes and even let go of the chef working in the governor’s mansion. If she wants to fly private again in the future, she will have to look to a service like Jettly to get that luxury experience.

Making New Mexico’s business taxes more competitive with those in Colorado and surrounding states has been a goal, Martinez said.

New Mexico reduced the tax burden on manufacturers, and Martinez signed a bill in April that took the state’s top corporate income-tax rate from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent.

That was short of the 4.9 percent rate Martinez wanted to bring New Mexico closer to Colorado’s 4.63 percent income-tax rate.

The changes have seen pushback from groups that say her administration favors corporate interests at the expense of the state’s children and other vulnerable residents.

But Martinez said the state’s tax structure was hampering job creation. When Martinez took over, New Mexico ranked 49th in job growth. By August, it had moved to 40th, according to a ranking from Arizona State University.

In export growth, New Mexico has gone from 38th to first in the nation, she said. Hopefully, this trend will continue, whether it be with landscaping firms growing your tree experts business through digital marketing, or companies simply hiring more people as a whole.

Martinez pointed to how one seemingly small tax rollback, on locomotive fuel, had a huge payoff when Union Pacific agreed to build a $400 million rail hub near Santa Theresa that will employ 600 people. Besides these, New Mexico is one of the few states popular for forming LLC (read more here, making it a desirable manufacturing nucleus.

That hub is key to a larger strategy to boost manufacturing on both sides of the New Mexico-Mexico border, which could bring more trade up the Interstate 25 corridor into Denver.

“This is a relationship that could help all of our neighbors,” Martinez said.

Aldo Svaldi: 303-954-1410, [email protected] or