House Bill 75 received unanimous support in the Health and Government Committee on Friday, and is now waiting to be discussed by the Taxation and Revenue Committee.
The legislation would allocate 0.83 percent of net receipts from the cigarette tax for the creation of a county and municipal recreational fund.
Prior to 2010, 1.35 percent amassed from the cigarette tax went to local parks and recreation departments through the general fund. But a 2005 law signed by then-Gov. Bill Richardson required that $7 million from the general fund be appropriated to a behavioral health capital fund for payout on behalf of the New Mexico Finance Authority in succeeding fiscal years.
Those funds are distributed to the cancer research and treatment center at the University of New Mexico, 0.83 percent; the New Mexico Finance Authority, 1.25 percent; UNM Health Sciences Center, 8.89 percent; the NMFA for improvements to facilities at the state Department of Health, 3.74 percent; the NMFA for deposit in the authority’s credit enhancement account, 9.97 percent; and the NMFA for the rural cancer treatment fund, 0.62 percent.
HB 75 would keep those disbursement rates intact.
A fiscal impact report completed last week by the Legislative Finance Committee says the bill would cause the state to lose about 0.98 percent of total current general fund cigarette tax distributions each year if signed into law. The report also says the LFC has concerns with including continuing appropriation language in the statutory provisions for newly created funds, as earmarking reduces the ability of the Legislature to establish spending priorities.
Rep. Zach Cook, R-Ruidoso, is sponsoring HB 75. He has said that local parks and recreational departments have been negatively impacted by the current law.
The Ruidoso Village Council on Jan. 10 passed a resolution requesting that the Legislature overturn the 2005 law.