The Eastern New Mexico News - Serving Clovis, Portales and the Surrounding Communities

Legislators upbeat after session


March 2, 2018

Eamon Scarbrough

Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, was honored with a plaque from Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Karl Terry and RCCC President Noelle Bartl.

PORTALES — Area lawmakers were in a celebratory mood on Thursday as they spoke at the Roosevelt County Chamber of Commerce Legislative Luncheon about the 2018 Legislature.

Rep. Dennis Roch, R-Logan, marveled at "the difference a year makes," adding the state has gone from a $200 million budget shortfall in the 2017 session to a $200 million surplus in the 2018 session.

"Every opportunity under the sun, people were saying, 'Oh, we gotta raise taxes. We should raise taxes on vehicle purchases and fuel. We should raise taxes on this and that and groceries and medicine. We should raise taxes on everything under the sun,'" he said.

"We fought it and fought it and fought it. Unfortunately, it got through over our objections. The governor vetoed it, which I'm delighted she did. One year later, without $300 million in new taxes coming out of our pockets, we go into this year's session $200 million up, with a surplus of $200 million over our prior year budget."

Of the 111 bills passed through the House and Senate and onto the governor's desk, Roch counted many successes, but lamented the failure to pass comprehensive tax reform in the state.

"We could have brought that (gross receipts tax) rate down by eliminating a number of deductions and exemptions that special interests over the years have carved out for themselves and made our tax code kind of Swiss cheese," he said.

Of victories in the session, he mentioned a bill proposing the first minimum salary raises for teachers since 2003 that is currently on Gov. Martinez' desk, and a bill also pending the governor's approval for $49 million over the next four years to be invested in school security.

In a bittersweet turn, Roch reminded the crowd that 2018 would be his last year as a representative after serving for 10 years.

"With my four kids at home, they're wanting me to be home. My 6-year-old, especially, says, 'Daddy, you missed my spelling bee while you were in Santa Fe.' I don't want to do that anymore. I want to be a dad," he said.

"Politicians and dirty diapers need to be changed often, and for the same reason," he concluded.

Roch was later presented with a plaque for his service to Roosevelt County by RCCC Executive Director Karl Terry.

In his remarks, Sen. Stuart Ingle, R-Portales, informed the crowd that legislation to fix New Mexico's highways will have to be found "some way or another," and would likely be proposed in the next three to four years.

"We can't fund it, and we don't have the money to do it unless we have some kind of a revenue source," he said.

He reported that the state had generated 10 percent in extra revenue, or $600 million this year, and that it wasn't over yet.

"I think we're gonna be past 11 or 12 percent for this year. That ends June 30. We were $200 million in the red last year, so you can see the economy of New Mexico has turned around, and it's not just in the oil and gas business," he said.

"Gross receipts taxes are up from purchases considerably. Next (fiscal year) that starts in July, we anticipate the growth at certainly 11, if not 14 percent, because the economy of New Mexico is turning around, and it's doing very well."


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