The Senate’s Tax, Economics and Transportation Committee on Saturday approved a bill aimed at creating new funding for the damaged freeways and roads in New Mexico.
Senate Bill 168 would raise the gasoline excise tax from 17 cents to 22 cents a gallon, and the additional contributions, if fully analyzed, would raise over $ 63 million annually through 2025, mostly for the state road fund.
The bill was passed 7-4, with the support of the Committee’s Democrats and opposition from four Republicans.
“We don’t have a single legislator who doesn’t say there are needs in their area. We even go to extremes on school buses unable to cross bridges due to delays in maintenance,” Senator Bobby J. Gonzales said Democrat from Ranchos de Taos, who is sponsoring the legislation, during the committee meeting. “Everyone is going to spend a lot more on Starbucks coffee than they do here.”
The bill would also increase the special fuel excise tax from 21 cents to 26 cents per gallon.
At 22 cents per gallon, the standard gas tax would still be more than 14 cents below the national average. New Mexico lawmakers have cut the tax twice since it was last increased in 1993.
Only Mississippi, Missouri, and Alaska have lower gas taxes. The proposed increase would bring New Mexico’s rate over seven states and would be the same as Colorado.
“This is really necessary,” said Senator Bill Tallman, an Albuquerque Democrat who is the law’s other co-sponsor. “People say that low taxes attract companies. That’s not true. Companies look for quality of life. It’s not cheap. Good roads and good schools cost money.”
Before going to the Senate to vote, the law has to go through the finance committee, although no hearing is planned.