Spaceport tax approval followup

According to this morning’s Las Cruces Sun-News, the spaceport tax referendum in Doña Ana County, New Mexico officially has a 265-vote lead with 108 ballots to be reviewed. The “yes” lead initially was somewhat slimmer than earlier reported—173 instead of 204 votes—but the lead grew as the provisional ballots were reviewed and added to the tally yesterday. The results have to be officially certified, which will take place on Tuesday; barring a challenge (which didn’t appear to be in the works), the tax would officially go into effect the first of next year.

Proponents were, naturally, gratified with the outcome. “I’m proud to be a citizen of this county today,” county commissioner Bill McCamley, one of the leading supporters, told the Sun-News. In a press release (not yet posted on its web site), National Space Society executive director George Whitesides (himself a customer of spaceport tenant Virgin Galactic), noted that this “is the first time that the new industry of personal spaceflight has come before a popular vote – and the referendum’s passage is an endorsement of the industry’s economic potential.”

Opponents of the tax appeared resigned to defeat, but consoled themselves that they had put up a hard flight despite a lack of money. “I compliment the proponents, but you know, they spent a lot of money compared to our campaign, which was grassroots,” Oscar Vásquez-Butler, a county commissioner opposed to the tax, said. Opponents of the tax claimed to have spent only about $1,000, while supporters reportedly spent up to 100 times as much.

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