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Gas tax proposal stalls in City Council

A proposal to raise the tax on gasoline by 2 cents per gallon – which has been pending before the Albuquerque City Council for a year – died after councilors didn’t take any action on it during their meeting Monday night.

The proposal, sponsored by Councilor Isaac Benton, would have generated an estimated $4.8 million to be used on road repairs.

Benton said he plans to reintroduce similar legislation.

“We really need that revenue,” he said. “It’s really asking the user, the consumer of gasoline, to pay for wear and tear.”

Money from the tax would be used for improvements to the city’s streets and other transportation systems, with a particular emphasis on improving conditions for pedestrians.

Americans for Prosperity-New Mexico issued a news release Monday calling for the bill to be killed.

“The U.S. Congress and President Trump just delivered historic tax reform so that Americans can keep more of their hard-earned money. It makes no sense that as New Mexicans are just starting to reap the benefits of tax reform, local politicians are attempting to undermine this progress by imposing an unnecessary gas tax hike on taxpayers,” said Burly Cain, the conservative political advocacy group’s state director. “The gas tax is regressive and hurts those most who can least afford it. It is not an effective solution to solving Albuquerque’s transportation issues.”

One person spoke in favor of not raising the price of gasoline during the council’s public comment period Monday.

“It didn’t get momentum last year because it’s an election year and right now it didn’t get momentum now because we have a transition going,” Benton said.

In other action, the council approved the appointments of Chelsea Van Deventer, who has worked in the public defender’s office for the past five years, and James Larson, who is a retired law enforcement officer, to the civilian Police Oversight Board.

The council also issued a proclamation honoring Albuquerque police officer Ryan Holets and his family. Holets received national recognition for adopting the baby of a drug-addicted woman who the officer encountered on the streets when she was pregnant.

“You’ve brought hope to each and every one of us,” Council President Ken Sanchez said, a reference to the adopted child’s name, Hope.

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