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Think tank ranks New Mexico tax burden 37th

SANTA FE (AP) - A national report ranks New Mexico 37th in the country for combined state and local taxes paid by its residents.
    
The conservative-leaning Tax Foundation said in a study released last week that New Mexicans paid 8.6 percent of their per-capita income in taxes to state and local governments in the 2011 fiscal year. That's lower than the national average of 9.8 percent.
    
The tax burden of New Mexicans has been dropping - from 8.7 percent in 2010, 8.8 percent in 2009 and 9.4 percent in 2008. New Mexico ranked 40th in 2010.
    
New York had the highest tax burden at 12.6 percent and Wyoming was the lowest at 6.9 percent.
    
The study measures taxes paid by individuals and businesses in their home states and directly or indirectly in other states.

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Albuquerque to collect items for homeless students

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - Albuquerque officials are setting out to help students living in the city without a home.

Various city and county officials will announce a first-ever drive geared toward homeless students Thursday morning at a news conference at Albuquerque Ambulance.

Albuquerque Fire Department spokeswoman Melissa Romero says city and county public safety agencies are asking for donations for students through a "Sirens for Homeless Students" drive.

Romero says residents can drop off items such as packaged socks and underwear, toiletries and non-perishable food items through April 26.

Items will be accepted at any fire or police station and participating businesses.

Romero says there are nearly 6,000 homeless students in Albuquerque.

(Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

Time-of-day watering restrictions begin

It may be April Fool's Day, but time-of-day watering restrictions are no joke.

Beginning Tuesday, April 1, customers of the Albuquerque Bernalillo County Water Utility Authority are prohibited from using sprinkler irrigation between 11 a.m. and 7 p.m. Time-of-day watering restrictions will remain in effect through October 31.

Those who water during prohibited times face water waste fines for each violation. Fines are based on the number of violations received by the individual customer in the past five years.

"The reason for this time-of-day restriction is that we want people to water when it will do the most good," said Katherine Yuhas, the Water Authority's Conservation Officer. 

Yuhas said that when sprinkler irrigation is used during the hottest and windiest part of the day, only about half of the water actually reaches the ground.The other half evaporates.

Best breakfast burrito in NM?

The New Mexico Tourism Department is looking for the best breakfast burrito in the state.

Starting on Monday, March 31, New Mexicans can nominate their favorite breakfast burrito for the "New Mexico True Breakfast Burrito Byway." All nominations must come from the official online form at newmexico.org/burrito.

Nominations are open to New Mexico-based restaurants with a business license, in good standing with local and state Health Departments and with a bricks-and-mortar location.
The breakfast burrito must include egg, tortilla and New Mexico chile on the regular menu.

After the nomination period ends on April 13, online voters will then decide which fifty locations should become the founding members of the Breakfast Burrito Byway.

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Lottery scholarship may cover 90 percent of UNM tuition

ALBUQUERQUE (AP) - A University of New Mexico administrator estimates that the state's lottery scholarship will cover 90 percent of the university's students just starting in the assistance program.
    
The Albuquerque Journal reports that Associate Vice President Terry Babbitt's projection is based on changes being made by recent legislation to prop up the program.
    
The legislation provides roughly $19 million in annual liquor tax money to supplement the scholarship program for two years starting in 2015.
    
According to Babbitt, no one can say with certainty what percentage of tuition will be covered by lottery scholarships until final enrollment, tuition and revenue figures are available June 1.
    
Babbitt is associate vice president for enrollment management.

Jeb Bush to fundraise for New Mexico governor

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush is to visit New Mexico this week to raise campaign money for Republican Gov. Susana Martinez.
    
Martinez political spokesman Danny Diaz said Bush will attend a fundraiser Tuesday in Farmington and another in Santa Fe on Wednesday.
    
Central Consolidated School District announced that Bush, Martinez and Public Education Secretary Hanna Skandera will speak at an elementary school in Shiprock Wednesday morning.
    
Bush served two terms as governor, first winning election in 1998.
    
Martinez has advocated some of the educational policies that Bush implemented in Florida, including holding back third-graders who can't read proficiently and giving schools A-to-F grades and performance-based pay bonuses for teachers.
    

Study ranks NM among highest sales tax rates

New data released by the Tax Foundation reveals that New Mexico's combined state and local sales tax rate is among the highest in the country.

According to the Albuquerque Business First, New Mexico's combined average totals 7.26 percent, which is the 16th highest in the nation.

Tennessee had the highest combined rate at nearly 9.5 percent. Alaska had the lowest at less than 2 percent.

The Tax Foundation's report also found that differences in sales tax rates caused some consumers to shop across borders or buy products online.