Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
Republican gubernatorial candidate Mark Ronchetti toured a machine shop in Albuquerque – joined by Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey – as he pitched his tax plan to voters Friday and called for making New Mexico more business friendly.
Ronchetti, a former television meteorologist, peered at complex drill presses and other equipment during a visit to Continental Machining, which makes parts for Los Alamos and Sandia national laboratories, the Department of Defense and other customers.
After the tour, he addressed about 20 employees as he described proposals to reduce income taxes, lower the gross receipts tax, issue annual rebates to residents and stop imposing property taxes on equipment used by small businesses – measures his campaign estimates might cost the state about $2 billion.
But with an oil boom filling state coffers, Ronchetti said, the state can afford to return more of its revenue to residents and businesses.
“The state of New Mexico has never been richer,” he said. “Some of this money has to go back in your pocket.”
Ducey, co-chairman of the Republican Governors Association, joined the tour and said New Mexico “is one of the top races on our radar.”
Ronchetti is competing with Democrat Michelle Lujan Grisham, who's seeking reelection to a second term, and Libertarian Karen Bedonie in the Nov. 8 election.
The Democratic Party of New Mexico blasted Ronchetti for campaigning with Ducey, who signed a 15-week abortion ban earlier this year. Abortion restrictions, the party said, can discourage business recruitment.
“Abortion is a fundamental right, but it's also a business issue,” Democratic Party spokesman Daniel Garcia said. “We've already seen that Doug Ducey's extreme abortion ban has threatened Arizona's economy.”
Reshaping the tax code in New Mexico is an annual debate at the Roundhouse.
The Tax Foundation, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank, ranked New Mexico 28th among states in its 2022 Business Tax Climate Index – behind Arizona and other neighboring states.
New Mexico is among the best for property and unemployment insurance taxes. But it's ranked particularly bad in sales taxes – No. 41 – because of the complexity of the gross receipts tax system, high tax rate and taxation on business-to-business transactions, analysts say.
But officials with national tax groups said some recent changes might improve New Mexico's ranking. The state recently exempted some manufacturing supplies and costs from double taxation.
Lujan Grisham this year signed legislation cutting the gross receipts tax rate by a quarter of a percentage point – 0.25% – half of which went into effect this year, the other half planned for next summer.