NM to lose jobs in face of fiscal cliff

Posted at: 12/28/2012 5:07 PM
Updated at: 12/28/2012 5:14 PM
By: Stuart Dyson, KOB Eyewitness News 4

New Mexico could lose thousands of government jobs if the country goes over the fiscal cliff next week - that's why the governor's team is pushing hard for a package of job-creating proposals in the upcoming legislative session.
Economists say the cliff scenario of tax increases and spending cuts could put up to 20,000 New Mexicans out of work, and that is driving the urgency of what the Martinez Administration calls the New Century Job Agenda.
Construction jobs have been fizzling away in New Mexico all through the recession, but in the last year or so we've seen an even bigger drop in government jobs and government contractor jobs. That will only get worse - much worse - if the federal government goes over the cliff.
That's why state Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela is making a hard pitch to business groups to support the Governor's agenda of corporate tax cuts and incentives.
"We need to be prepared for that, and this New Century Jobs Agenda gets us prepared," Barela said after a meeting with defense technology business people at Kirtland Air Force Base on Friday. "It helps us create good-paying private sector jobs for all New Mexicans in every part of the state. That's why we need to get this agenda passed."
"There's ways you can look at new ways of partnering, new ways of doing business," said Casey DeRaad of the Phillips Technological Institute, a networking agency for public-private partnerships in the defense industry. "I think some of the initiatives Jon brought up for the state today should be helpful, for businesses, for the national labs, The Air Force research lab, and their business partners."
One thing Gov. Susana Martinez wants the legislature to do is cut New Mexico's corporate income tax rate. Right now, at 7.6 percent, it's the second highest in the Southwest region, exceeded only by California's 8.84 percent. Our neighboring states are significantly lower, and three of those states - Texas, Wyoming and Nevada - don't have any corporate income tax at all.
The governor's plan is to reduce New Mexico's tax rate to 4.9 percent, the same as Arizona's tax and close to what Colorado imposes. It is all about the ongoing struggle to attract employers to our state. The legislature will get a good luck at all of the governor's proposals when the legislature convenes Jan.15.