Update, 2:39pm:

Here's a response to this blog from Gilbert Gallegos, Deputy Chief of Staff to the Governor's Office:

Nobody is asking lobbyists to "solve New Mexico's budget woes." And the Governor is not looking for a consensus or any recommendations from the task force. He wants a thorough analysis of the pros and cons and a public debate. Ultimately, the Governor will use the information as he builds the executive budget for the 2010 legislative session. That is why there are no legislators on the panel. The Legislature has its own process for developing its budget.

Gov Richardson's 40-person

held its first meeting last night, one that by most accounts seemed to be a preliminary brainstorming session. Which is cool. But whether the task force is going to get any closer than October's special legislative session did to solving New Mexico's budget problems will depend on whether 21 registered lobbyists can find anything at all to agree on. (This begs a “How many lobbyists does it take...?” joke, but I'll resist.)

That 40 people, more than half of them lobbyists, might be needed to solve New Mexico's budget woes isn't remarkable in itself—though as anyone who's ever had to do a class project in high school knows, too many people can make things messy. But compared to the 2003

(BRTRC), which was charged with basically the same thing, revamping the state tax code, it seems like a lot. The BRTRC had 23 members: 10 legislators, 10 public members appointed by Gov Richardson and two public members appointed by the House. Only two, Fred Nathan, the director of the Santa Fe-based think tank

, and Bill Fulginiti of the

, reappear on this year's task force. (Both are registered lobbyists.) The full roster, after the jump...

There are no legislators this year, either—a fact State Sen.

, D-Santa Fe, finds “interesting.” (One could argue, of course, that they had their chance in the special session.) But what concerns Wirth more is the presence of so many varying special interests.

“That's going to make it tough to come up with any kind of consensus,” Wirth says. “Everyone's going to be looking to protect their own little turf. Of course, that's exactly what we face during the legislative session as well.”

SFR reached Nathan last night, who expressed a similar view: that altering the tax code will be tough if everyone sticks to his/her own narrow interests. And how effective this task force will be also depends on whether anyone will listen. In 2003, Wirth says, Gov. Richardson

many of the BRTRC's recommendations. Still, he says he's interested to see what the task force comes up with.

As someone who has carried a bill dealing with the corporate tax loophole for all five years I've been in the legislature, I've been surprised at how little discussion we've had about overall tax policy,” Wirth says. “It's critical that we have discussions about tax policy, and this is a part of it that needs to happen. It's a start.” In the context of the upcoming 30-day session (this year's was 60 days), he says, establishing task forces may be the best we can do. The task force is slated to meet once more this week (Thursday, 1-5pm in Albuquerque) and on December 1, 10 and 17.

Anyway, here's the list of the task force members, with an * for the registered lobbyists (also available on the New Mexico

). And not all lobbyists are bad: Nathan's group, for instance,

to reduce government corruption in New Mexico. The task force, then: Obstacle to a fair tax policy, or the only way to arrive at one? You decide.


Rick Homans (Chair), Secretary of Taxation and Revenue

Lieutenant Governor Diane Denish or Designee

Carolyn Abeita, Esq., Member, University of New Mexico Board of Regents

*Steve Anaya, Executive Vice President, Realtors Association of New Mexico

Richard Anklam, President and Executive Director, New Mexico Tax Research Institute

Odes Armijo-Caster, President, Renewable Energy Industries Association

*Bob Barberousse, Cigar Association of America

Kathi Bearden, Former Publisher, Hobbs Daily News Sun

Jim Berry, Executive Director, Las Cruces Chamber of Commerce

*Charles Bowyer, Executive Director, National Education Association-New Mexico

Gayla Brumfield, Mayor, City of Clovis

*Carter Bundy, Legislative Director, AFSCME

*Don Chalmers, Principal Dealer, Don Chalmers Auto

Rick Clemente, Production Central ABQ

*Terri L. Cole, President and Chief Executive Officer, Greater Albuquerque Chamber of Commerce

Pat D'Arco, Chairman, Rio Rancho Planning & Zoning Board

*Bill Fulginiti, Executive Director, New Mexico Municipal League

*Leo Garza, Legislative Committee Chair, AARP New Mexico

Jackson Gibson, Member, District 6, Transportation Commission

*Leland Gould, Chair, New Mexico Oil and Gas Association

Jami Grindatto, Corporate Affairs Director, Intel

*Paul Gutierrez, Executive Director, New Mexico Association of Counties

Jim Hinton, President, Presbyterian Health Services

*Ruth Hoffman, Director, Lutheran Advocacy Ministry-New Mexico

*Jim Horton, Director, Public Policy and Government, Associated General Contractors

*Bill Jordan, Policy Director, New Mexico Voices for Children

*Leanne Leith, Political and Programs Director, Conservation Voters New Mexico

*Sharon Lombardi, Executive Director, Dairy Producers of New Mexico

Raymond Mondragon, Chair, New Mexico Economic Development Partnership

Bob Murphy, Executive Director, Economic Forum of Albuquerque

*Fred Nathan, Executive Director, Think New Mexico

*Fred O'Cheskey, New Mexico Beverage Wholesalers and Southern Wine & Spirits

Alex Romero, President and Chief Executive Officer, Albuquerque Hispano Chamber of Commerce

*Allen Sanchez, Director, New Mexico Conference of Catholic Bishops President, St. Joseph Community Health

David S. Smoak, President, RSF Land and Cattle Co.

Mark Thompson, Lieutenant Governor, Acoma Pueblo

Tony Trujillo, Government Relations Director, Phelps Dodge

*Thom Turbett, President and Chief Executive Officer, Independent Insurance Agents of New Mexico

*Jerry Walker, President and Chief Executive Officer, Independent Community Bankers Association of New Mexico

Michelle Welby, Director, Medical Operations, Molina Healthcare of New Mexico

Chuck Wellborn, Wellborn Strategies, LLC

*Carol Wight, Chief Executive Officer, New Mexico Restaurant Association

*Registered Lobbyist