Panel: No Tax Hikes

New Mexico – New Mexico lawmakers who want tax hikes to be part of a deficit reduction package suffered a setback on Sunday.

A committee of the state Senate ruled that tax hike bills are not relevant for consideration during the ongoing special legislative session.

A majority of committee members said the bills are precluded because Gov. Bill Richardson specified no tax hikes in his official proclamation for the session.

Lawmakers who want tax hikes say the governor improperly narrowed the Legislature's options for filling a $650 million gap in this year's state budget.

They questioned whether his proclamation was constitutional.

Those in favor of tax hikes say the hole in the budget should not be filled solely by cuts to schools and state programs, but by increasing revenue.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.