SANTA FE – New Mexico’s sobering budget crisis has prompted calls for an increase in “sin” taxes – specifically, taxes on alcohol and tobacco purchases.
Tax hikes on booze and cigarettes likely wouldn’t solve the state’s entire $589 million budget shortfall for the current and just-ended fiscal years, but groups promoting them in recent weeks say they would bring in revenue that could help close the gap.
Most recently, the director of a group that favors higher alcohol taxes asked Gov. Susana Martinez this week to consider adding an alcohol excise tax increase of 25 cents per drink to the agenda of a possible legislative special session focused on balancing the budget that’s expected to be called this month.
Peter DeBenedittis, the director of Alcohol Taxes Save Lives and Money, said such a tax increase would generate more than $154 million annually and would help offset costs to the state imposed by excessive drinkers in the form of law enforcement efforts, court cases and medical treatment.
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