Senator defends 11th-hour tax deal

From the Santa Fe New Mexican - By Bruce Krasnow - The chief architect of the last-minute tax deal that passed the New Mexico Legislature said he was unsure it had complete support from Gov. Susana Martinez until after she held her post-session news conference. State Sen. John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said his last meeting with the governor was Friday morning, March 15, and she indicated her opposition to a provision that might force local governments to raise taxes in order to compensate for lost state revenue.
     “Friday morning she said there was no deal,” Smith told The New Mexican. “At 10:30 a.m., she turned it off and said there was no deal, but I went ahead and had it drafted.”
     The “it” Smith refers to was a comprehensive tax bill that passed the Legislature in the session’s final minute Saturday. It includes one of the governor’s priorities — a lower corporate tax rate as well as a single-sales provision to reduce taxable business income. It also includes two measures valued by Democrats — an increase in film and television production credits and a combined reporting formula for taxation so big-box retailers will have to pay taxes to New Mexico for out-of-state activities. Smith’s bill has been criticized for the way it came together — it was approved by the House in the final seconds before the constitutionally required noon Saturday adjournment — and some say the final vote was past noon.
     Rep. Stephen Easley, a freshman Democrat from Santa Fe who voted against the bill, said the last 60 minutes soured what had been a collegial and respectful 60-day session. “It was a good session, everyone was treated fairly by the speaker until the last 30 seconds, when the fix was in,” he said. “There was no debate, no discussion on this bill. That was unfortunate.”
     But Smith said that is the nature of the Legislature: “I don’t know of any other way to do it when we’re running out of time.” Read more

Next big oil boom could be in northwestern NM

Executives from some of the nation's biggest oil and gas companies say the next big oil boom could take place in northwestern New Mexico.
 The executives are in Farmington for a conference to discuss the potential for a previously untapped section of the San Juan Basin known as the Mancos shale.
 Former U.S. Sen. Pete Domenici says about 1.8 billion barrels of oil could be recovered from New Mexico reservoirs in the Mancos shale, which also extends into Colorado, Utah and Wyoming
The Albuquerque Journal  says the successful extraction of oil and wet natural gas in the basin would bring relief to San Juan County.


Udall says thousands of New Mexicans owed tax refunds

U.S. Senator Tom Udall says more than 7,000 New Mexicans are owed more than $6 million by the Internal Revenue Service in unclaimed tax refunds from 2009.
 The New Mexico Democrat is reminding residents that they only have until April 15 to claim their Monday. Udall says 7,100 New Mexicans are owed a total of $6.45 million from 2009, with a median refund of $567. And any that goes unclaimed will be kept by the Treasury. 
Udall's offices says many refunds go unclaimed because filers are unaware they are eligible for a return.


State unemployment rate unchanged

New Mexico's unemployment rate in January is unchanged from December's revised rate.  
Labor officials say New Mexico's unemployment rate of 6.6 percent is an improvement over January 2012 when the rate was 7.0 percent.
 The New Mexico Department of Workforce Solutions says the rate of over-the-year job growth was 0.4 percent for January. That represents a gain of 3,500. 
The largest employment gains were reported by the leisure and hospitality industry, which added 2,000 jobs since last year. The financial activities industry added 1,500 jobs.