2020 Democratic Primary – NM House/Senate Candidates

Assuming that the economy is not going to grow significantly in the next 2-3 years – and that reducing fraud, waste, and abuse will not provide any significant savings — how would you provide funding to keep New Mexico education from being the worst in the nation?

State Rep-District 34
Ray Lara– As a committed educator and committee member of House Education and the Legislative Education Study Committee, I don’t appreciate what this question implies. New Mexico teachers and educators are passionate committed professionals that work tirelessly to educate the children of our state. Money can’t be thrown at public education to see what sticks and what doesn’t. As a state, we invest hundreds of millions of dollars that are distributed to the school districts and charter schools in the state. Local decisions are then made by school boards and governing boards as to how that funding is spent based on local needs. That stated, there are many factors that go into educating our children and funding is just one of them. We have to have certified teachers in all NM classrooms, educational materials have to be culturally and linguistically relevant, school buildings must be in good shape, connectivity must be available, transportation must be available and investment from parents, families and the community is a must. To just throw money at education in order “to keep New Mexico education from being the worst in the nation” is not going to be the solution. If you have lived here long enough, you would know that NM is not a “one size fits all” state.

State Sen-District 31
Joseph Cervantes– First I agree with the premise that we cannot realistically expect to fund our government by reducing fraud, waste and abuse. This ignores the fact that primary and higher education represent approximately 60% of our general fund spending. Our current budget assumed oil prices at $51/barrel and today that price is under
$20/barrel. We must rely on the Land Grant Permanent Fund to fund education given the budget crisis which confronts us. We must also eliminate unproductive tax breaks to select businesses and restore corporate tax rates. I voted against the most recent cuts to corporate taxes though those cuts were passed.

Melissa Ontiveros– It is important that we explore and analyze reforms to fund public education as we think about limiting the exposure of public education funding to unstable returns on oil and gas. Legislatures should examine raising property, sales or income tax and increase funding from the lottery. -I would explore and support grant opportunities to fund programs such early education, literacy, and/or STEM programs. -Legalizing recreational marijuana would be another way to fund education. With a clear budget and plan on how much funding would go towards education and educational programs. For instance, Colorado, Nevada and Oregon include language in state ballot initiative to ensure a portion of tax revenue is used in education. “In 2018 Colorado collected roughly $245 million for early literary grants, $40 million for school capital outlay and $30 million to the state Public School Fund”. Revenue from marijuana can be used to fund public health initiatives such school-based health centers, school and social workers (in every school). -I would work with US Representatives to increase money for rural schools, special education programs, and early education.

State Sen-District 35
Neomi Martinez-Parra– I believe it is important to look at alternative forms of revenue. Supporting and taking care of our children is vital and should be a priority. The Land Grant Permanent Fund is a significant source of support from early education to post-secondary. If we put our kids first, we will see a lower Higher school dropout rate, increase in higher education and a
bigger educator workforce in years to come.

John A. Smith– New Mexico education funding is not 50th in the nation. It is approaching midpoint nationally. 47% of funding goes to public education and approx. 13% goes to higher education. New Mexico education retirement is not actuarial sound and this needs to be corrected, it is billions of dollars short. Tax reform needs to be more than a buzz word and needs to have stabilize revenues to fund education and government. Education funding has increased but enrollment has decreased statewide.
State Sen-District 38

Carrie Hamblen– The problem with trying to improve our education funding is that we have to play catch up for years of ignoring the importance of supporting our schools. If we had used a portion of the permanent fund much sooner for our educational needs, it would have been an investment in the future of our children rather than being affected by the stock market and constantly playing catchup. I feel funding our education system should be a priority in the legislature and implementing equitable disbursements from revenue sources. Plus, diversifying our revenue streams is crucial if we are to weather downfalls in the market.

Mary Kay Papen– I have always made education a priority. We have to keep it front and center.

Tracy L. Perry– The time is now to be bold on bringing new revenue to New Mexico. We have so much potential for growth in multiple industries that include alternative energy, agriculture, marijuana legalization, aerospace and defense, distribution and transportation, manufacturing, digital media and film, and administrative and federal government support. We need to invest in these industries so we can provide improved diversification in revenue. Long term, we need to create a workforce through education that is attractive to business and prioritize tax reform.

Do you support or oppose private prisons and detention facilities?

State Rep-District 34
Ray Lara– Oppose

State Sen-District 31
Joseph Cervantes– I oppose privatization of the criminal justice system including prisons and detention facilities and in 20 years have not supported privatization.

Melissa Ontiveros– I oppose private prisons and detention facilities

State Sen-District 35
Neomi Martinez-Parra– I oppose private prisons and detention facilities. The state has no true oversight to make sure that our children who are incarcerated are not cared for. Health is a priority.

John A. Smith– The private prison issue was back in the Gary Johnson administration and that has not been a good experience for the state. The private prison issue was when states were trying to build them out as a
solution to crime. The State of New Mexico needs to be discussing prison reform.

State Sen-District 38
Carrie Hamblen– I oppose private prisons and detention facilities as they are nothing but money generators for those corporations who own them or run them. This is done at the expense of people of color and a lower socioeconomic class that have been targeted by law enforcement for petty misdemeanors rather than legitimate crimes. If we are to have prisons in our state, they should be regulated by the state and not run according to profit margins.

Mary Kay Papen– The State of New Mexico should provide the detention facilities needed for the State.

Tracy L. Perry– I completely oppose private prisons, and I hope that every other Democrat in this race does as well. Not only do I oppose them because of the impact on public services, but they can disproportionally effect people of colors and underserved communities. I have done my best to work with constituent offices in Congress and in New Mexico to sure that ICE raids don’t tear families apart – something that private prisons exacerbate.

Realizing that there are many national and state level issues right now, what would you say is the most important issue or challenge related to your particular district?

State Rep-District 34
Ray Lara– We have many needs in our communities ranging from infrastructure to commercial growth and job development. HD 34 for the most part is agricultural in nature where water issues remain at the top of the list. The communities of HD 34 are also in need of infrastructure, this also includes quality of life infrastructure such as community centers, broadband, parks and athletic fields. That said, selecting a singular issue to identify as the most important or challenging would be doing a disservice to the people of HD 34.

State Sen-District 31
Joseph Cervantes– Assuring the delivery of healthcare resources into southern Dona Ana County such as COVID19 testing and protective PPE. Currently a number of law enforcement officers in Sunland Park are quarantined. It is essential first responders remain healthy and available to serve, and that residents can access information, testing and healthcare.

Melissa Ontiveros
– If you are asking about the issues and challenges due to the COVID-19 – the people who live in Sunland Park, Anthony, Chaparral are faced with ECONOMIC CRISIS (loss of jobs, unable to get unemployment, immigrants). The people who live in these areas are considered to live in very low SES areas or live in poverty and now face losing their homes, utilities turned off or can’t afford to buy food or essential products. In Las Cruces the economic crisis is a challenge due to lose of jobs and decrease in employment hours. -However, If you are asking about what is important (in general/not related to COVID-19) voters who live in Sunland Park, Anthony, Chaparral, and Mesquite they would say infrastructure. In Las Cruces there are two distinct areas: the most important issue would be safety in the Missouri/Telshor area; the more affluent neighborhoods vary in their response to what they find most important or a challenge.

State Sen-District 35
Neomi Martinez-Parra– Making sure education is fully funded at a time we cannot do cuts to programs that will hurt our kids and working family. During the last recession the legislation cut state employees/teachers funding which sent NM backwards. We have a rainy-day fund and we need to use it because it is pouring outside.

John A. Smith– The most important issue is to get the virus issue behind us and then we have to get people back to work.

State Sen-District 38
Carrie Hamblen– Given the current COVID-19 pandemic, we are seeing more and more of the disparities with access to healthcare. Since District 38 contains many rural communities and with scarce economic opportunities, residents of these areas are having to work while taking risks for themselves and their families. Furthermore, recruiting and being able to pay more specialists and doctors, not only in the city but the rural parts of the community, is critical to providing much needed health care. And, to make sure their pay is equal to that in other parts of the state. This would include providing more funding and resources to La Clinica de Familia, the Amador Health Center, and the Ben Archer clinics. 
Although this is a complicated issue, with many variables that affect positive outcomes, providing much needed transportation so residents can access healthcare, jobs, and educational opportunities is critical. In addition to supporting those initiatives, we also must provide support and resources for locally owned businesses, entrepreneurs, and farmers. It’s difficult to say there is just one issue when so many of them are intertwined and dependent on one another in order to see improvement. But, as we are seeing because of the COVID-19 pandemic and the drop-in oil and gas revenues, the need to diversify our economy by legalizing cannabis and adopting more wind and solar to offset the decrease is imperative.

Mary Kay Papen– Unemployment and small business is of great concern to me and the people in my District. Healthcare is also a challenge in my District.

Tracy L. Perry– We have several in District 38 that require immediate attention. The Governor recently vetoed some infrastructure bills and capital outlay requests due to declining oil revenues. Roads and infrastructure is an issue that is critical to District 38 as it covers the heart of Las Cruces as well as rural areas going all the way down near to the border. Colonias in my district as well as other rural areas rely on infrastructure money, and we need to address this to make sure we don’t fall behind.
-NMSU, DACC, and Las Cruces High also falls within District 38, and we are home to a lot of students. High Schools and Universities have different challenges, but it will be key to address the issue to make sure that students have the resources they need to thrive, even in summertime where many of them rely on summer programs and school. I look forward to working with the Governor, State Legislature, and all local branches of Government to make sure that we make the right investments into the people that need it the most.

In light of the downturn in oil/gas revenues, what recommendations would you make going into a special session?

State Rep-District 34
Ray Lara– We don’t know what the impact is or will be. It wouldn’t be prudent and responsible to make specific comments or recommendations based on speculation at this moment. I anticipate that we will have more of a solid idea as the session looms closer.

State Sen-District 31
Joseph Cervantes– We will confront unprecedented demands on our budget after the 40% of our budget, which relies on oil revenue, must be slashed. Likewise declines in gross receipts taxes on spending, and income taxes, will have terribly impacted our revenues. We will need to come together and agree to utilize the Land Grant Permanent Fund for allowable uses in funding education and allow for a larger distribution percent as possibly high as 6.5%, or as needed to avoid cuts to public education. Fortunately, we retained reserves this past session at over 20% which will help carry us through the next fiscal year beginning in July. We will have to work closely with our federal delegation to secure federal assistance on Medicaid to assure health insurance and care.

Melissa Ontiveros– We cannot depend on gas and oil as sustainable funding sources for New Mexico. “Oil and gas wells do not produce at a constant rate. Production rates within the state can only be sustained through ongoing exploration and drilling programs”. If we want to grow NM’s economy, we cannot keep postponing legalizing recreational marijuana. We have resources and the evidence we need to move forward with a bill that will diversify economic growth, create jobs for all people (including those who are systemically excluded by equal access to jobs and economic opportunity), and reduce astronomical law enforcement costs.
-Potential sales tax benefits for legalizing marijuana would not only put New Mexico in the fore run for economic development and job creation but could help pay for costly education reforms, re-establishing our behavioral health system, and provide resources to prevention and rehabilitation in tobacco, drugs and alcohol programs. -Why stall when we can start making marijuana use safer through required testing, labeling, and regulations that safeguard users and distributors.

State Sen-District 35
Neomi Martinez-Parra– Considering our current issues with Covid-19. We need alternative means to oil/gas revenues. Knowing that a large portion of our revenue comes from oil and gas. The legislature should have fixed this after the last recession. Since they did not we will have to keep our programs that assist our children, families, and small businesses funded through our permanent fund until we diversify our economy.

John A. Smith– The special session should address 3 areas not necessarily in order: 1) How is the state going to pay its bills. 2) Make certain health care is funded to address the current virus issues. 3) How to restart the economy at the local government level. All three of these issues need to maximize monies from the federal stimulus.

State Sen-District 38
Carrie Hamblen– This is a complicated issue because first and foremost, we need to be aware of the safety of our legislators and staff. The COVID-19 pandemic really illustrates the need for remote meeting and voting and having the forethought to bring the New Mexico Legislature into the modern technological era. Also, we need to look at what is in the state constitution and handbook to see what procedures are in place regarding the re-calculating of capital outlay projects. That said, I would propose that each legislator re-calculate their capital outlay projects, disclose that information to their constituents, and be transparent in their decision making.

Mary Kay Papen– The State of New Mexico during 2020 is in a safe place because of our previous fiscal responsibility. However, because of our economic downturn in the State, in the year 2021difficult decisions will have to be made. The tax committees of the NM Legislature should be looking to come up with a sensible comprehensive plan that looks at all options.

Tracy L. Perry– As I mentioned previously, we need to look at finding new revenues. I would support putting marijuana legalization on the docket as well as incentives to solar and wind jobs. Furthermore, we need to figure out how to get small businesses back on track. While we can’t lift regulations that would hurt the environment, I do believe we can get creative by allowing for expanded services including having more liquor licenses for restaurants and providing businesses with grants to make sure they remain operational. At this point, all ideas should be on the table.

What exemptions would you eliminate; what taxes would you raise; what specific programs or areas would you cut?

State Rep-District 34
Ray Lara– I will answer this question in different parts:
1) Without knowing which exemptions and for who/what the questions is referring to, I cannot provide specific examples. 2) Taxes were raised during the 2019 session on high wage earners and on tobacco to name two specific increases. 3) Cuts in any program or area will have consequences that will impact all New Mexicans. This means that any reductions must consider the impact that it will have in the larger picture. That said, I personally would not target or cut any program and or area in particular, but I will consider across the board reductions in order to mitigate negative impacts on New Mexicans and the people of HD 34 in particular.

State Sen-District 31
Joseph Cervantes– Again I would restore corporate tax rates which were cut over my opposition during the Martinez administration. We must restore progressive tax policies and brackets. NM must spend less on incarceration and in particular for drug offenses. I passed the law decriminalizing marijuana in NM so that we not waste resources prosecuting personal drug use and not incarcerating people for personal use drug offenses.

Melissa Ontiveros– Inequities go beyond money. Core services, which make a huge difference in instructional quality and student performance, are systematically unavailable to students in low-income schools relative to students in higher-income schools. It is important that school funding go beyond raw numbers and we evaluate whether students have equitable access to the resources needed for success, including early childhood education, quality teachers, and exposure to challenging curriculum. -Under the current administration, education funding to districts through the state equalization formula have been placed “above the line” – meaning they are controlled locally, without political interference and assuring equity and equality in for school districts.
Increase property tax – increase revenue from income tax by reducing certain exclusions, such as preferential treatment of capital gains, or limiting the amount of deductions that taxpayers can claim. Broaden sales tax to items subject only to an excise tax: cigarettes, alcohol, and gas.

State Sen-District 35
Neomi Martinez-Parra– I do no support tax breaks for the top 3%, Remove the tax cap on out of state second homeowners, I want to make sure internet sales is taxed to protect our local mom and pop shops. I do support small businesses.

John A. Smith– The shutdown of retail and restaurants is devastating local government revenues and will challenge sustained law enforcement and emergency services. Local governments need to be included in the discussion. All exemptions should be on the table and if not removed or eliminated a sustained employment should be required of the beneficiary of the exemption.

State Sen-District 38
Carrie Hamblen– Before making sweeping changes in our tax system, it is important to review what taxes are practical and fair and what taxes are unnecessary and burdensome. I have heard from many individuals, sole proprietors, who are financially slammed because of the Gross Receipts Tax. I would want to explore the history of that tax and revisit its viability. What seems to be a common practice in cities across the state is to offer large tax incentives to out of town companies and stores and yet not offer equitable tax incentives to already established or locally owned businesses. This should be an economic generator rather than a punishment for entrepreneurship and small businesses. On any of the taxes and exemptions, there must be a mandatory sunset clause in place to provide the opportunity to re-evaluate the efficacy of any tax that is affecting businesses and individuals.

Mary Kay Papen– I would review what the tax committee brings to the table. My record reflects my responsible, prudent and fair fiscal responsibility.

Tracy L. Perry– We need to continue to work towards a more progressive tax system. The Legislature did a good job on beginning this process in 2019, but there are still certain areas that we can improve upon including close corporate loopholes that do not directly relate to job growth; eliminate the many deductions and exemptions; and increase our capital gains taxes where we can. -There will be a lot of discussion on what programs to cut, and I don’t want to commit to anything until we know more about what the budget will look like. However, any cuts CANNOT come at the expense of public education and hard-working New Mexicans. Instead of immediately looking for programs to cut, we should look at how we can diversify and expand our economy.

How would you continue to support the Yazzie Martinez decision with potential budget cuts?

State Rep-District 34
Ray Lara– Once again, money isn’t the cure to what ails education in New Mexico. Funding is just a part of the solution, and I feel that I addressed this in the previous education question.

State Sen-District 31
Joseph Cervantes– Judge Singleton’s ruling in this case requires more spending than possible with budget cuts elsewhere given that public education represents approximately 60% of our state budget. With job losses and economic pressures, we cannot cut salaries of educators. We cannot shortchange our students since we cannot later make up for educational opportunities lost. Infrastructure and road spending must be suspended except as federally funding. Capital projects must be suspended and the appropriations for those projects reallocated to public education spending during this crisis. We have done this previously though not at the level we must do now.
Melissa Ontiveros– It will be important that we prioritize increased access to high-quality educational opportunities that raise student achievement as part of an equitable education financing system. It costs more to educate low-income students and provide them with a robust education. To overcome issues of poverty, low-income students need significant additional funds. Additional funding to low-income schools could attract highly qualified teachers, improve curriculum, and fund additional programs such as early childhood education. I will advocate and support a weighted student funding—which differentiates school budgeting based on the demographics that each school serves. I will work with local, state, and federal policymakers to revamp New Mexico’s school funding systems with a focus on quality. I will advocate for federal government increase funding and support on high-poverty schools. I would explore and support grant opportunities to fund programs such early education, literacy, and/or cultural and linguistic programs.

State Sen-District 35
Neomi Martinez-Parra– We need to reprioritize our spending by fully funding education. If our state had implemented support in every facet of our educational system our kids would be more successful, we would see a higher graduation rate and prosperous workforce. We also need to consider alternative revenues for our state.

John A. Smith– The governor has challenged this lawsuit and is waiting for a response. Three judges have been assigned to this case since it was filed. I will take the direction of the courts and support funding to comply with the order.

State Sen-District 38
Carrie Hamblen– The key in implementing the requirements from the Yazzie/Martinez case is to listen to the educators who are directly affected by the findings. Our state is required by law to implement a number of issues that were deficient. There is still evidence that some of those issues like internet in rural communities and universal prekindergarten have not
been fulfilled. With potential budget cuts, I would suggest consulting with educators who are directly impacted by the major infractions, address those with the available budget, and then set a timeline for addressing the remaining issues in coordination with educators.

Mary Kay Papen– It is NM State mandated law.

Tracy L. Perry– I want to be very clear that we cannot cut public education funding and that we must continue to abide by the Yazzie decision. New Mexico is constitutionally obligated to sufficiently fund it’s schools. We have a teacher shortage in New Mexico, and budget cuts will only make us fall further behind the curve and lose jobs to our neighboring States. I still support pay increases for all educators, mentorship programs, and increased resources for underserved communities including Native American Schools. This pandemic does not change the fact that all students deserve a quality education, regardless of their zip code.

Do you have any recommendations for supporting the growth of PreK in light of the new budget constraints?

State Rep-District 34
Ray Lara– PreK is only one part of the statewide early childhood education so I will speak specifically to PreK. Public and private PreK will continue to grow in New Mexico, unfortunately it is currently voluntary and as a result not all parents in the state have access to PreK services. I would like to see it eventually implemented statewide, but I don’t foresee that with the current economic uncertainty.

State Sen-District 31
Joseph Cervantes– I was an author if the Pre-K legislation when originally passed and so will work doing everything possible to avoid cuts. Pre-K is an allowable use of Land Grant Permanent Fund resources, and I would favor use of the LGPF to expand Pre-K despite other budget pressures. There is no second opportunity to educate our youth and once that opportunity is missed it cannot be recovered.

Melissa Ontiveros– I will work with local, state and federal policymakers to fund pre-K programs. Considering all the funding options that exist before identifying the funding mechanism that will best increase the quantity and the quality of pre-K programs in New Mexico. -I will advocate for funding streams targeted at improving overall quality and improving opportunities and outcomes from all students. Utilizing available funding sources such as: -Block Grants: lump sum to localities, approach to give additional funding to specific areas or to schools serving students who have high needs. -Funding Formula: most states use a funding formula based on a per-student funding level, with additional money allocated to needy areas and students -Grants and Funding Streams: local governments are taking on pre-K policy and creating universal programs at the district.
-Match Funding: voluntary preschool program requires local governments or providers to provide matching funding, increasing coordination and stakeholder investment. -Federal Government Funding: provides pre-K to low-income

State Sen-District 35
Neomi Martinez-Parra– We need to reprioritize our spending. The Land Grant Permanent Fund is an opportunity to improve on our educational system. We need alternative forms of revenue in our state. NM is 121,590 in SQ. MI prime for wind/solar/tourism/ecotourism/cultural. .. Therefore, the opportunities are abundant.

John A. Smith– Early childhood funding is critically important. I was the senate sponsor for full day kindergarten, and I was the senate sponsor for the early childhood trust fund. In the last 6 years we have increased early childhood funding from $160 million to right at $500 million, during the most difficult of financial times. The PED portion and CYFD have to be funded along with the new department. The source will have to be determined in light of the recession and or depression.

State Sen-District 38
Carrie Hamblen– Finding funds for PreK is essential. Research shows that supporting children in the early years creates a solid foundation for success in later years. Again, this is another instance of playing catch up for errors made by not investing in early childhood education by using a portion of the Permanent Fund. In order for this to be successful, educators need to have input on how best to move forward with the resources available and to learn what the legislature can do to support new resources.

Mary Kay Papen– I was a co-sponsor of the Early Childhood Trust Fund Senate bill and supported the House bill which created a trust fund of $325 million for Early Childhood education which the Governor signed and is now law.

Tracy L. Perry– I think it’s more important than ever to invest in Early Education. I am sensitive to the fact that the budget will be a hot topic, which is why it is so critical to bring in new revenue and stabilize the economy. As I’ve already stated, there are multiple opportunities that we can take advantage of including Marijuana, solar and wind, capital gains taxes, and lifting certain bureaucratic restraints on small businesses. Now is not the time to be scared. We need to find new sources of income so we can make investments into Early Childhood Education.

With increased temperatures, increasing competition for water, and decreasing ground water, what measures do you support to address the triple whammy these conditions create?

State Rep-District 34
Ray Lara– These conditions are beyond the control of any one person or entity. I support conservation efforts however this will not relieve the demand for water. What I do support is the move to desalinization, there is an abundance of brackish water in our area and a desalinization plant must be considered in order to relieve the need for water for our people.

State Sen-District 31
Joseph Cervantes– I have now served several years as Chairman of the Water and Natural Resources Committee and the Senate Conservation Committee. We must work with Texas and Arizona to negotiation a resolution of lawsuits including in the U.S. Supreme Court. Water committed to agriculture must be better utilized with efficiencies in irrigation methods and crop sciences led by NMSU. Desalination holds much promise when coupled with renewable energy resources of the future including solar, wind and geothermal. But ultimately we have to confront and reverse climate change and its consequences like drought.

Melissa Ontiveros– Water resources are important to both society and ecosystems. We depend on a reliable, clean supply of drinking water to sustain our health. We also need water for agriculture, energy production, recreation, manufacturing, treaties. Many of these uses put pressure on water resources, stresses that are likely to be exacerbated by climate change. In addition, it is imperative that consumption of water be addressed through conservation measures in all three major sectors of water use: urban, agricultural, and industrial. -I will advocate to reform government subsidies for water and electricity. I will work with conservation groups, local and native and state leaders to identify strategies for water reservoirs in higher altitudes (decrease evaporation). I will support making living river policies a priority to protect and restore a living Rio Grande. I will support examining water policy reforms to restore clean water and beneficial flows to the Rio Grande, to conserve and provide water for all people and wildlife. I will advocate for strategies to protect New Mexico’s ground water from hazardous waste, landfills, atmospheric contaminants, chemicals and road salts.

State Sen-District 35
Neomi Martinez-Parra– Rivers like the Rio Grande are our lifeline to our communities. Farmers and Ranchers rely on our water supply. We have strong cultural connection to our water.

John A. Smith– I support adequate funding to address the Texas/New Mexico lawsuit. I have supported drip irrigation research and utilization. I have supported solar and wind generation efforts and state renewable energy deadlines.

State Sen-District 38
Carrie Hamblen– I think the water restrictions we have in place for residential areas is effective, but I believe there are strategies that can be implemented to reduce water use that we have yet to put into practice. We have several sustainability offices in town (City of Las Cruces, NMSU, and Doña Ana County) that have suggestions for these issues. We need to support those ideas and implement them. Agriculture is part of the fabric of our community and with our Land-Grant Institution; we have incredible minds, research, and practice to make farming the most efficient. Also, farmers have traditionally be thoughtful stewards of the resources they need to make a living. I believe members of the farming community need to be part of the discussion and creating the solutions for the
Agricultural aspect of this problem.

Mary Kay Papen– I support the increased use of drip irrigation. I support water conservation efforts.

Tracy L. Perry– Although groundwater constitutes about 75% of New Mexico’s water supply, our state lacks a comprehensive plan for maintaining this resource. Developing such a plan is necessary for long-term water security and may soon be legally required if the Supreme Court agrees with Texas that excessive groundwater pumping in southern New Mexico violates the Rio Grande Compact. Our Legislature needs to work with the state engineer to develop legislation, modeled on Arizona’s Groundwater Management Act, to ensure that our groundwater is managed for equitable and sustainable use. Furthermore, New Mexico can promote water conservation by working with farmers who can save significant quantities of water by adopting water-saving technologies and practices such as drip irrigation, micro-jet spray, and border flood systems. As State Senator, I will work to develop policies that incentivize water conservation in agriculture and throughout our economy. We can do all of this while protecting the Gila River from diversion and restoring the Rio Grande.

What is the current means by which capital improvement authorizations reach individual districts – and do you favor keeping it this way or changing it?

State Rep-District 34
Ray Lara– I’m assuming that this question is in relation to capital outlay funding allocations that legislators receive and not the capital outlay funding that is intended for school districts. Legislative capital outlay is divided up into two funding streams. One is the use of General Fund allocations to fund projects and the other is the use of Severance Tax Bonds to fund the projects. Can the system be improved? I’m sure it could be, but I have learned to navigate the system in order to maximize capital investments in my legislative district. Thus, providing much needed infrastructure to HD 34.

State Sen-District 31
Joseph Cervantes– For years I have proposed legislation to fundamentally reform our spending on capital projects. New Mexico is consistently rated the worst in the country for the way we designate and prioritize spending. I have managed significant reforms in our capital spending for water projects and that example demonstrates how to do the same for all other infrastructure spending. I work closely with local county and city elected officials to prioritize and partner to appropriate worthy projects which benefit the most New Mexicans.

Melissa Ontiveros
– I support the current capital improvement authorizations process. The Infrastructure Capital Improvement plan coordinates and maintains critical infrastructure needs of the state. A bottom up approach with local government entities prioritizing infrastructure projects for their communities. -ICIP provides information from local governments on priority infrastructure projects for their communities, including details of each project, funding time frames, and estimated costs over the current 5-Year cycle. The intent is to use this process to plan for future capital project needs. This information is used by the legislators to determine priorities for capital outlay allocation to local governments. The process calls for each local government to designate that jurisdictions “Top 5” projects. Generally, funds coming thru the State of New Mexico, can only be allocated to projects listed in the ICIP.

State Sen-District 35
Neomi Martinez-Parra– Capital requests should be more transparent and equitable.

John A. Smith– I appreciate the question but sources of this money come from the fossil fuel industry. The general fund portion has been and will be used for solvency. The severance portion will be greatly delayed due to the bond market conditions. Prudent capital outlay distribution requires all local governments working together and not in competition with each other.

State Sen-District 38
Carrie Hamblen– I feel the process in which Capital Improvement authorizations reach individual districts is severely flawed. First, the needs of rural New Mexico are different that then needs of a city like Albuquerque or Santa Fe and yet the allocations for each area regarding the costs to taking care of those needs are the same. There has to be more thought and practicality when designating the set amount for each legislator based on their communities. Once those projects are funded, there is not enough coordination between the legislators and the community to make sure those projects are completed under budget, within budget, or need more funds. There also needs to be more public awareness as to how to request those funds, the process by which they are requested during the session, and how those funds are dispersed. I believe this is the responsibility of the legislator and the state government.

Mary Kay Papen– I support the current Capital outlay system. Senate district 38 has many needs. Being able to help fund our communities’ needs is important.

Tracy L. Perry– Capital Outlay is funded mostly by bonds and non-recurring revenue. Capital outlay funding is equally proportional for each Legislative District after funds are allocated through both chambers of the legislature. However, this process has not been formalized in law – which is something that needs to be done in order to bring more transparency to the process. Something that should be done is to make the process more visible to the public -Capital outlay will be especially difficult in the 2021 Session since non-recurring revenue will be so unpredictable. However, most capital outlay does go to infrastructure projects throughout the State, which is extremely necessary, especially in District 38. We’ll need to prioritize where the money goes, while also bringing a new system of transparency to the process.