SANTA FE — During a news conference hours after lawmakers adjourned their 30-day legislative session on Feb. 15, Gov. Susana Martinez hinted her veto pen could be put to work on a bipartisan bill that would impose a fee on dog and cat food to help fund spay-neuter programs.
The foreshadowing proved apt, as the governor vetoed the legislation today, saying that local governments are better positioned than the state to promote the spaying and neutering of pets.
“I strongly encourage New Mexicans to spay and neuter their pets — however this misguided legislation is nothing more than a tax increase that would not solve the problem,” Martinez said in a statement.
Backers had described the bill, House Bill 64, as a user fee — not a tax hike — and said it could help reduce pet overpopulation issues, especially in rural New Mexico. The measure passed both legislative chambers by decisive margins during the 30-day session.
It called for an annual fee to be levied on commercial pet food brands sold in New Mexico. The fee would have eventually generated an estimated $1.4 million a year for programs that help low-income families spay or neuter their pets.
The legislation is the second bill vetoed by Martinez this year. She previously vetoed a measure that proposed giving a 10 percent salary increase to statewide elected officials and utility regulators starting next year.