Policy: Environment & Energy

NM Democrats urge restraint on Tesla incentives

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News,Business,New Mexico,Energy and Environment,Corporate Welfare,Electric Vehicles,Tesla

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — A dozen legislators and other Democrats say New Mexico shouldn't go overboard in granting tax breaks to Tesla Motors so the electric car company locates a battery plant in the state.

In a letter to the Albuquerque Journal (http://bit.ly/QIGb0h ), the Democrats said any bid to attract the plant shouldn't rely solely on tax breaks.

Arizona, California, Nevada and Texas also are trying to win the $5 billion battery plant.

The New Mexico Democrats' letter said the state can't afford to give up so much future tax revenue to Tesla that education and other needs aren't met. It also says incentives for Tesla shouldn't cause other taxpayers to pay more.

While the letter described Tesla as a cutting-edge carmaker that could have a positive impact on New Mexico's economy, it argued that the state has lost money in previous deals with out-of-state corporations.

Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has said she might consider calling a special legislative session on economic incentives to make New Mexico more appealing to Tesla.

Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela, a Martinez appointee, said Wednesday the administration has worked to make New Mexico a more business-friendly state while being protective of taxpayer dollars.

Barela said some of the same Democratic lawmakers who signed the letter had opposed tax legislation supported by Martinez.

"I think it is curious that many of those who signed that letter voted against the jobs package and other pro-business measures that have positioned New Mexico as more competitive," Barela said.

Barela was referring to a 2013 bill that, among other things, cut the state's corporate income tax rate from 7.6 percent to 5.9 percent.

Sen. Cisco McSorley, an Albuquerque Democrat who voted in favor of the 2013 legislation, said he initiated the letter and reached out to other Democratic elected officials in Bernalillo County to sign it.

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