March 1, 2006

New Mexico gov. signs bills to fund spaceport

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson
signed legislation into law on Wednesday that will allow his
state to begin investing $110 million in a facility to launch
tourists into space.

"These bills will help create tremendous economic impact
for New Mexico, and particularly Southern New Mexico,"
Richardson said in a statement on the planned spaceport in
Upham near the White Sands Missile Range.

"This is a unique opportunity for New Mexico to be on the
ground floor of a new industry that will bring new companies,
more high-wage jobs and opportunities that will move our
state's economy forward," he added.

Helping fund the facility, estimated to cost $225 million,
was a priority during the state's recent legislative session
for Richardson, who wants to help British entrepreneur Richard
Branson's Virgin Galactic build the spaceport.

The two bills Richardson signed would create the New Mexico
Spaceport Authority, which will be able to issue bonds, and
would allow local governments that would benefit from the
facility to ask voters if they would support it and related
development with a new local options gross receipt tax.