Proposal to sell spaceport advances through New Mexico Senate committee without recommendation

A panel of New Mexico senators offered no recommendation as it passed a proposal to pull the plug on the taxpayer-financed spaceport and put the futuristic hangar up for sale.

The Senate Corporation and Transportation Committee voted unanimously Thursday to advance the legislation sponsored by Democratic Sen. George Munoz of Gallup.

The bill has added fuel to criticisms that Spaceport America — first initiated by former Gov. Bill Richardson, a Democrat, and British billionaire Richard Branson — is a boondoggle.

Under the legislation, the New Mexico Spaceport Authority and other agencies would have to develop a marketing plan by October to sell the spaceport. Proceeds would be used to repay development bonds. Taxes imposed in Sierra and Dona Ana counties to pay for the project would be rescinded.