Questions raised over ‘Bond C’ campaign claim of ‘no tax increase’

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ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – The committee backing G.O. Bond C promises $142 million for higher education in New Mexico without increasing taxes, which has prompted questions over what’s not being clarified about this proposal.

It’ll be on your ballot Nov. 8: Bond C.

And you may have seen the billboards, TV spots or online ads that say ‘No Tax Increase’ if you vote on this general obligation bond, which would allocate those millions of dollars to higher education institutions in our state.

KRQE News 13 asked Paul Gessing, president of the Rio Grande Foundation and proponent of small government, if he thinks that the ads claim of ‘no tax increase’ is fair.

“Not especially fair, no,” he said. “I wouldn’t say it’s an out-and-out lie, because it’s not, it is truthful and what it says is a true statement.”

What Gessing more so has a problem with is what the ads don’t say.

“That’s the way these things are typically sold,” he says. “There’s always the ‘we’re not raising taxes’ line but they don’t tell you, ‘and, oh, by the way, if you vote this down, your taxes will go down.'”

Bond C, if passed, would replace expiring bonds and the levy imposed by them. Meaning, although Bond C technically bears a tax increase, taxes wouldn’t rise because it’s directly replacing older bonds.

If Bond C is rejected, however, property taxes will decrease.

“Folks could use a little more money in their pockets,” Gessing said. “And maybe it’s time for the higher education and other bonds requests to fight a little harder or pare those back.”

KRQE News 13 reached out to Gerald Burke, the chair of the GO Bond for Education Committee, based out of Las Cruces. This is the group responsible for the ads for Bond C. Burke says he’s run this bond issue over the last six election cycles.

“All of a sudden, the decrease in tax issue has become a big issue for a few people, very few people,” he said in a phone interview. “You cannot possibly, in a campaign this size, go into every possible minute detail that if it fails, your tax might go down slightly.”

Burke argued, instead, that the need for a new Physics and Astronomy building at the University of New Mexico, or replacing the nearly 80-year-old art building at New Mexico State University that was originally the school’s gymnasium and still has bleacher inside, should outweigh what he believes would be pennies less or nothing at all in taxes.

“These projects, it’s not out willy-nilly building fancy buildings,” Burke said. “It’s either replacing these decrepit existing buildings, or doing repairs on existing facilities.”

Earlier this week, UNM President Bob Frank said the millions of dollars from Bond C, if it passes, would provide “a variety of improvements and renovations that might not be possible otherwise,” making mention that it would come at no cost to taxpayers.

KRQE News 13 reached out to the spokesperson for the Department of Finance and Administration for New Mexico asking about Bond C and how much taxes would decrease if Bond C was rejected. We did not hear back as of Friday night.

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