Campaign '08, States

One other space-related election today

Although most of the attention here has been on the space policies of the presidential candidates, as well as key Congressional candidates, there is one other election today with direct relevance to space. Voters in Otero County, New Mexico, which includes the city of Alamogordo, will be voting on a sales tax increase to help fund Spaceport America. The tax is similar to those passed last year in neighboring Doña Ana County (Las Cruces) and earlier this year in Sierra County (Truth or Consequences), although the Otero tax is only one-eighth of a percent, half the increase approved in the other two counties.

Spaceport supporters, including governor Bill Richardson, have been pushing hard to get the tax passed; Richardson mentioned it during a press conference at Las Cruces International Airport on October 24 about a partnership between the state, Rocket Racing, and Armadillo Aerospace to develop suborbital vehicles that could fly from the spaceport. “I urge all the residents of Otero County to vote for the gross receipts tax,” he said. “It’s happened in Sierra County, it’s happened in Doña Ana County. We’ve got one more to go and we are off.”

There is local opposition to the spaceport tax, primarily among residents concerned about a tax increase during troubled economic times and/or skeptical about the economic impact Spaceport America will have on their county, some distance from the spaceport. Spaceport supporters, though, have warned that if the county doesn’t pass the tax, they’re unlikely to reap any benefits from it all.

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