SANTA FE — A proposal to nearly triple New Mexico’s gas tax rate over the next five years advanced Friday, despite opposition from Republican lawmakers.
The measure, House Bill 173, would generate more than $300 million in additional revenue by the 2024 budget year and would split the money up three ways — for statewide road repairs, a new clean infrastructure fund and prorated rebates for low-income New Mexicans.
It was supported Friday by multiple high school-age students, who described the legislation as a novel way to fund climate change efforts.
“Now is the time to invest in a cleaner environment, which will lead to a thriving economy,” said Tabatha Hirsch, a student at Santa Fe Prep.
But critics said it would hurt New Mexico families and called it unnecessary with the state sitting on a massive budget surplus.
“I am shocked that Democrats are continuing to burden hard-working New Mexicans with increased taxes,” said Rep. Jason Harper, R-Rio Rancho.
New Mexico’s current gas tax rate of 17 cents per gallon has not been increased since 1993 and is one of the lowest in the region, according to a fiscal analysis of the bill.
However, the proposed 30-cent surtax — that would be gradually implemented — would make the gas tax rate one of the nation’s highest by 2026, according to the analysis.
The bill is described by supporters as “The Next Generation Transportation Act” and is sponsored by Rep. Matthew McQueen, D-Galisteo. It passed the House Taxation and Revenue Committee on a party-line 8-4 vote and now moves on to the House appropriations committee.