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Thursday, February 13, 2003

House, Senate To Hash Out Tax-Cut Differences

Journal Capitol Bureau
    SANTA FE The House on Wednesday voted not to accept Senate changes to a state tax cut package, setting the stage for negotiations between the two chambers.
    The House rejected Senate changes on a voice vote in one of the first big political disputes of the legislative session. In this case, the House is in disagreement with Democratic Gov. Bill Richardson, as well as the Senate.
    Three House members and three senators later were appointed to a conference committee to negotiate over different versions of the bill (committee substitute for HB 167, SB 167).
    House members appointed were: House Speaker Ben Lujan, a Santa Fe Democrat and chief sponsor of the House version of the bill; Rep. Tom Taylor, R-Farmington; and Rep. Donald Whitaker, a Eunice Democrat and chairman of the House Taxation and Revenue Committee.
    Senators appointed were: Senate Majority Leader Manny Aragon, D-Albuquerque; Sen. Carlos Cisneros, a Questa Democrat and chief sponsor of the Senate version of the bill; and Sen. Sue Wilson Beffort, R-Albuquerque.
    The Senate on Tuesday overwhelmingly approved the tax-cut package without a House-approved provision that would have prevented it from fully taking effect if New Mexico's fiscal outlook worsens.
    Richardson objected to the House "circuit-breaker" provision.
    The bill would reduce the top state personal income tax rate from 8.2 percent to 5 percent over four years and cut the state's capital gains tax by 50 percent over the same period.