Funding woes could ‘cripple’ NM spaceport as other states invest in space race

The state has cut its annual funding for the spaceport. Excess tax money collected in Doña Ana and Sierra counties is shoring up the budget for now.

Spaceport America has operated for years with a tight budget hampered by a struggling economy, delays in Virgin Galactic’s planned launches and skepticism among many state officials.

The N.M. Spaceport Authority, the state agency that operates the facility, has shored up its annual operating budget since 2012 with excess money from taxes collected in Doña Ana and Sierra counties.

That’s been controversial. Officials pledged to voters who approved the tax increase a decade ago that three-fourths of the money would be used for construction of the facility that was to be built in the desert west of Truth or Consequences. The remaining one-fourth of the tax money was pledged to education programs in the two counties. Officials said the state would fund the spaceport’s operations.

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