New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson said he might consider bringing back taxes on soft drinks and candy by making changes in the food tax repeal that took effect in 2004.
The Democratic governor said Tuesday he supported eliminating the food tax then because he thought it was regressive and hurt low-income families. But he didn't rule out changes to the food tax repeal as lawmakers prepare for the Legislative session next week that will look at ways to balance the state's troubled budget.
"I didn't say no, but I'm not especially enthusiastic about it," Richardson told members of the Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce at the Sandia Pueblo casino and resort.
The chamber supports a return of the food tax, which would raise $229 million annually, chamber president Terri Cole said. The chamber has proposed giving $20 million from that revenue to New Mexico organizations to help the hungry, she said.
A task force appointed by the governor to consider budget balancing measures estimated that a gross receipts tax on soft drinks and candy would raise $18 million a year.
The governor has proposed $200 million in temporary tax increases, which he said should remain in place for no more than three years, to balance the budget.
Richardson has proposed spending $5.3 billion in state revenue next year. The upcoming 2011 fiscal year starts in July.
Richardson also said he would be open to increases in the tobacco tax.
Richardson told chamber members he is opposed to efforts to balance the budget that would hurt the state's efforts to attract business and create jobs.
Earlier Tuesday, Richardson signed an executive order at Schott Solar in Albuquerque that he says will set the course for the state as it tries to create more jobs and establish a green economy. The order directs state departments to support both research and manufacturing in the renewable energy industry.
Part of the effort includes establishing a special property tax assessment district for renewable energy in each interested county in the state.
Richardson also proposed expanding the state's renewable energy production tax credit during the upcoming legislative session.
"We're getting a reputation as the being the clean energy state," he said. "What I don't want the Legislature to do is eliminate the tax credit for businesses, for solar, for movies, that bring jobs to the state."
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