Lawmakers urge caution with incentives for Tesla

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – Some lawmakers are sounding a warning against giving Tesla too sweet of a deal to convince the company to build its battery factory in New Mexico. The group of state and Albuquerque officials have signed a letter which calls for a cautious approach to bring Tesla here.

New Mexico is one of four states in the running for the $5 billion lithium battery factory, which would create around 6,500 jobs.

“In the past, we’ve made horrible mistakes in how we lure big businesses to New Mexico and through a series of events, they sometimes have proved to be disastrous, which have caused New Mexico state taxpayers a lot of money,” Sen. Cisco McSorely said.

The letter, signed by several Democratic elected officials, makes recommendations including ensuring the plant hires locals, and that Tesla works with the University of New Mexico and the national laboratories on the technology.

State officials have been tight-lipped about what might be included in a package to attract Tesla, but Economic Development Secretary Jon Barela said the administration has worked to protect taxpayer dollars while making the state more business friendly.

“We monitor the companies to make sure they’re hitting their employment targets,” Barela told KRQE News 13. “If not, then the taxpayers get their money back through clawbacks we have instituted.”

Governor Susana Martinez has said a special session may be necessary to pass more incentives to win Tesla over. Some lawmakers we spoke with say they don’t want to get into a bidding war for Tesla, and if a special session is called, they want a deal with the company to be a sure thing.

Tesla says it hopes to make a decision on where to build the battery plant in the next few months.

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