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Understanding a Bill in Context

When reviewing a bill, it is important to consider it from a variety of perspectives and be aware of the context.

2022 is an election year when all State Representatives, some senators, and the Governor are facing re-election. Passing bills makes elected officials look good to voters and is an unacknowledged motive.

New Mexico has a revenue surplus of $1.8 billion for the 2022/23 fiscal year. While some bills are intended to address long standing needs, there are also a number of bills proposing tax cuts.

For the past two years, legislators have indicated there would be a comprehensive review of New Mexico’s tax code after the 2022 legislative session.

Why the rush to pass a number of tax cuts now? Could it be because many legislators want to look good ahead of the elections in November?

For instance, a number of bills have been proposed to exempt social security income from state income tax. One argument in support of the bill is it will help seniors who are dependent on their social security income. HOWEVER, exempting social security income would only benefit those who have incomes above $70,000. In other words, this tax exemption will only benefit wealthy people who can afford to pay the tax anyway. This exemption would cost the state over $120 million in its first year alone.

One should consider the context when reviewing bills:

  • What is the purpose of the bill?

  • Will the proposed measures achieve the purpose?

  • Who benefits from the bill, either directly or indirectly?

  • Is the proposal sustainable?

  • What are the costs: monetary, environmental, societal?

  • What is the cost of the bill, in the near term and into the future?

  • Are there mechanisms to review the provisions of the bill and sunset give-aways?

One of the benefits of New Mexico’s volunteer legislature is that citizens have easy access to our representatives and senators. Nonprofits can and should engage in advocacy on behalf of their missions and the communities they serve.

You can search bills by keyword. Read the bill with regard to how it will affect your work and the communities you serve. Check when the bill will be heard in committee meetings. That is the time to offer public comment and go on record. You may have expertise that can help legislators make better decisions.

Summaries of bills directly affecting nonprofits are listed on the Legislative Session page.

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