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          Front Page


Wednesday, January 29, 2003

Gov. Touts N.M. to Foreign Execs

By David Miles
Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE Gov. Bill Richardson on Tuesday said he pitched his New Mexico economic development plan to executives from nearly 30 companies during a global economic conference in Switzerland.
    Now legislators need to approve his economic growth package, including tax cuts, to entice those CEOs to bring their businesses to New Mexico, the new governor said.
    "What we did was plant seeds that I think are going to bear fruition," Richardson said at a Capitol news conference. "You also have to now deliver on an economic growth package."
    Richardson and Rick Homans, secretary-designate of the state Economic Development Department, on Monday returned from the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
    Richardson said he touted the economic development plan during meetings with executives from Boeing, Microsoft, Mitsubishi and other companies.
    The business executives expressed the most interest in Richardson's proposals to lower state taxes on personal income and capital gains, the governor said.
    Richardson wants to immediately reduce the state's top personal income tax rate from 8.2 percent to 7.7 percent and cut the capital gains tax by 10 percent.
    Richardson ultimately wants to lower the state's top personal income tax rate to 5 percent over five years and to cut the capital gains tax in half over the same period.
    Homans said Richardson's assurances to business leaders that New Mexico lawmakers would act quickly on the governor's economic development package underscores issues in New Mexico's current legislative session.
    "It raised the stakes of what this session is all about," Homans said.
    Richardson said he and Homans tried to persuade executives from Royal Philips Electronics in the Netherlands not to close the company's Albuquerque plant but did not receive any commitments.
    Richardson also said he met with diplomats and politicians from Mexico, Canada, South Korea and Japan.
    The governor said he and Mexican President Vicente Fox discussed increasing trade and establishing direct airline flights between Mexico and New Mexico.
    Richardson, who took office Jan. 1, said he plans to travel extensively in hopes of recruiting more businesses to move to New Mexico.
    "You just can't wish economic development to happen," Richardson said. "You've got to talk to people; you've got to get to know them; you've got to personalize it."