Inside the Capitol

Tuesday, October 05, 2010

10-8 Special Day and Odd Election Results

Syndicated Columnist

SANTA FE -- A special day is on its way. Sunday, Oct. 10 is another of those trinumeral days: 10-10-10. We've had 10 of them so far this century, beginning with Jan. 1, 2001.
And we'll have two more. Imagine the buzz around Nov. 11, 2011. Imagine the belief systems that will go crazy about 11-11-11.
For those interested in symbology and numerology, every number has a special meaning. July 7, 2007 was considered a very lucky day. It may be fortunate we won't have a 13-13-13.
All sorts of people and groups take advantage of trinumeral days. Special events are scheduled. This year, 10-10-10 is set as the target date for many fundraisers. Since 10 is a nice round number, it is handy for Top 10 lists of all sorts.
Trinumeral days are especially popular for marriages. County clerks' offices are busy on those days. This year, 10-10-10 falls on a Sunday, so offices likely won't be open. But I know of at least one that opened last year on a Saturday for couples who requested marriage licenses dated 09-09-09.
* * *
Strange things happen when economic times are tough. In Lincoln County, the state's most Republican county, voters approved a gross receipts tax increase.
While in Taos, the fourth most Democratic county in the state, the town council unanimously repealed a gross receipts tax increase ordinance it previously had passed.
Of course, the situations were somewhat different. The Taos ordinance was a general tax increase to support an ailing town budget. Also a school district bond issue recently had passed.
In Lincoln County, the tax increase was to help out the Ruidoso Downs Racetrack and Casino, which was experiencing hard times and threatening to move out of the area.
As one might imagine, that election campaign involved months of lively debate. The idea of residents helping bear the financial burdens of a private business seemed to be a very unusual concept.
But actually, it isn't really that different. Many people from the area had supported efforts to convince the state Legislature to lower the tax rate for the horse track and casino, owned by R.D. Hubbard. .
Had that happened, all New Mexico taxpayers would have borne the burden of the lost revenue. Local taxpayers also foot the bill when industries are recruited to a community and given tax breaks.
So the 2010 Legislature's solution of creating a tax to support retention of a business in a community isn't a bad idea. Isn't it better to help a business stay in a community than to give tax breaks to a business that may leave as soon as it gets a better deal elsewhere?
The Lincoln County vote was close. Some residents with no ties to the track and casino didn't particularly want to help a millionaire pay his taxes. In Hubbard's behalf, I doubt millionaires enjoy losing money any more than we poor folks do.
Perhaps the most unusual aspect of this election was that voters got to decide whether they like the idea of corporate welfare to attract or retain businesses. State and local governments spend a great deal of money on economic development without ever asking voters.
The Lincoln County vote involved some side issues too. What about the people the track attracts to the area every summer? Were they willing to pay the extra tax?
The issue came up when an anonymous flier was circulated telling people how they could transfer their voter registration to Lincoln County for the election and then transfer it back in time for the November general election.
Neither the supporters nor opponents claimed any connection with the effort but 269 people registered with the county clerk during the three months before the election, 63 of them from Texas.
Since it is necessary to document residence within the county, it is generally assumed many of the new registrants were people with second homes in Lincoln County who didn't want to see their property values dive as a result of the track and casino moving away.
FRI, 10-08-10

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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