“I’m not so sure how I’m going to vote on this bill,” House Minority Whip Donald Bratton, R-Hobbs, just told the chamber, eliciting laughter from his colleagues.
Bratton is the sponsor of HB628, the legislation the House has been debating for two hours or so. Bratton likely made his comment because his original legislation was amended in committee, removing a provision that would have made permanent the 1.5 percent increase that public workers would have to contribute into their retirement plans.
Shortly after Bratton made his comment, a state lawmaker stood on the House floor to ask why tax breaks given to the oil and gas industry aren’t on the table as part of the state budget solution.
“I have to ask how much is the oil and gas industry” really sharing in the state budget, that lawmaker said.
Bratton responded that since the economic downturn, San Juan County has lost 5,000 jobs, Bratton responded. “I think the oil and gas sector is sharing in the pain,” Bratton responded.
Rep. Candy Spence Ezell, R-Roswell, just stood up to reel off several state taxes on the oil and gas industry.
“When I hear these comments, it really does upset me that we take one particular industry and bash it all the time,” Ezell said.
She said that no other industry does as much for New Mexico as the oil and gas industry. Ezell specifically referred to the movie industry by comparison.
“They’re saying no, you can’t cut us. But everyone is getting cut,” Ezell said.