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Gov. Pressured on Tax Measure

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She didn’t ask for it, but Republican Gov. Susana Martinez is receiving plenty of advice — and a healthy dose of political pressure — on deciding whether to sign corporate tax legislation backed by Democrats.

A national labor union has set up a website that calls on Martinez to sign the so-called “combined reporting” bill, and a coalition of the bill’s backers plans to deliver 5,0000 signatures to the Governor’s Office today.

However, the first-term governor told reporters Wednesday that she won’t be swayed by sheer numbers.

“What I’m obligated to do is study the bill — what impact does it have on New Mexico,” Martinez said. “If the impact is we’re losing jobs, I’m not signing something like that.”

As of Wednesday, Martinez’s office had received about 2,300 emails, phone calls and other communications in favor of the legislation. Meanwhile, the Governor’s Office had received about 1,700 messages urging a veto.

Unions, small-business organizations and occupy groups have embraced the measure sponsored by Sen. Peter Wirth, D-Santa Fe, as a tax fairness issue, claiming it would level the playing field for New Mexico-based small businesses.

The bill, SB 9, would address what some describe as a corporate tax “loophole” by mandating that big-box retailers doing business in New Mexico, but based in another state, combine earnings from all subsidiaries for tax purposes.

Unlike previous versions of the bill, it would also slightly reduce the top bracket corporate income tax rate, meaning state revenue levels would likely remain flat.

“It’s hard to imagine these big-box retailers leaving the state due to a bill like this,” Wirth said Wednesday.

The website launched this week by Communications Workers of America — ohsusana.org — features a doctored picture of Martinez, along with a form for visitors to fill in so their names can be sent to the Governor’s Office.

Although the union described the measure as a “popular bipartisan bill,” the bill received the backing of just one Republican — Rep. Paul Bandy of Aztec — in final floor votes during the legislative session that ended Feb. 16.

Martinez previously vowed to veto the legislation if it passed, claiming it would kill jobs and possibly reduce state revenues. She has until March 7 to act on the bill.

Although the governor said she is still analyzing the bill, she expressed skepticism Wednesday about some of the input her office has received on the legislation.

“When you get an email that is a cut-and-paste and it’s the same thing over and over, you have to wonder if it’s the same person sending it under various names or if it’s a true constituent,” Martinez said.

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