SANTA FE – In a long-shot bid to secure more funds for public schools statewide, the Senate voted 24-16 on Wednesday to approve a proposal that would generate an estimated $89 million annually by nearly doubling New Mexico’s tobacco tax rate.
The measure faces an all-but-certain veto if it passes the House and arrives on Gov. Susana Martinez’s desk, but majority Senate Democrats said the measure would provide an alternative to additional K-12 spending cuts.
“This will not only assist us with some of the (potential) cuts for this year, but it will also help us backfill some of the cuts from previous years,” said Sen. Howie Morales, D-Silver City, sponsor of Senate Bill 231.
If approved, the measure would nearly double the state’s tax on cigarettes, raising it from $1.66 a pack to $3.16 a pack, a $1.50 increase. It would also apply to cigars and electronic cigarettes, or e-cigarettes, although it wasn’t clear how those items would be taxed.