- NAME: Michelle Lujan Grisham
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION : Member of Congress
- CITY OF RESIDENCE : Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Three-term member of Congress, business owner, New Mexico Secretary of Health, New Mexico Secretary of Aging
- EDUCATION : BA and JD, University of New Mexico
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: newmexicansformichelle.com
1. What are the top two things you would do to improve the economy in New Mexico?
First, I’ll create a Pre-K through adult education system that provides everyone with a quality education and prepares our workforce for quality New Mexico jobs.
Second, I’ll support investment in a modern and commercially oriented infrastructure including roads, bridges, railway, broadband internet, water, electric transmission, and clean power generation.
2. What are the top two things you would propose to address the state’s high crime rate?
First, I will address our opioid and drug issue and its impact on crime, providing high-quality treatment across New Mexico.
Second, I will ensure that our police, prosecutors, and entire justice system have the resources and staff they need to fight crime.
3. How would you address the state’s high DWI rate?
I will make sure that our police officers and prosecutors have the funding, regular training, resources they need to catch and convict drunk drivers, and support and promote more low-cost designated driver programs in rural communities, and support effective mandatory treatment programs for repeat offenders.
4. New Mexico now spends about $270 million a year for early childhood programs, such as home visiting, pre-kindergarten and child care assistance. Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that would withdraw more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to increase funding for early childhood services?
I support responsibly funding our schools and creating universal early childhood education in New Mexico with a constitutional amendment. We know high-quality Pre-K education for 3 and 4-year-old children makes a huge difference in cognitive and social development and long-term educational outcomes. Our kids deserve this investment.
5. Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
I will sign a bill that legalizes recreational cannabis only if it includes protections for kids, DWI, medical cannabis patients, and sensible regulations. We can use this to generate much-needed revenue by taxing sales.
6. Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
We need to do whatever we can to engage more voters in the electoral process. Opening primary elections to independent voters will create an opportunity for more people to participate and incentivize campaigns like mine to reach out to a broader electorate even before the primary election.
7. Do you support or oppose raising New Mexico’s minimum wage, currently $7.50 per hour? If so, by how much?
I will support an increased minimum wage in my first term, raising it to $10 in 2019 and bringing the minimum to $12 by 2022 and indexing it to inflation. This will give more than 100,000 hardworking New Mexico families an immediate raise.
8. Do you support or oppose basing any percentage of a teacher’s performance evaluation on student test scores? Explain.
Teachers and all state employees need to be held accountable but based on fair and holistic evaluations and metrics that reflect their work. Testing-focused evaluations punish teachers working with the most vulnerable students, and discourage the quality teaching that our students deserve.
9. Do you support merit bonuses for teachers who do well on their evaluations? Do you believe unions should have the authority to block such bonuses?
These sorts of merit pay programs have not shown to have positive long-term effects on teacher or student performance. I will focus our investments on improving teacher quality and retention with professional wages and professional development opportunities.
10. Do you think having 32 state institutions of higher education is too many? What would you propose to make higher education more efficient?
32 institutions is not necessarily too many, but we can do more to make higher education more effective and efficient. Campuses can coordinate administrative services and purchasing while avoiding program duplication. And tying more funding to school performance while providing necessary supports will help graduate more skilled students.
11. How should the state’s lottery scholarship program be kept solvent into the future?
The lottery scholarship is a crucial piece of the higher-ed funding puzzle for thousands of NM families. I will support the study of lottery operations so that we generate the strongest returns for our students, and change the lottery formula so it does not incentivize schools to increase tuition costs.
12. Do you support or oppose making New Mexico a so-called right-to-work state, by changing state labor laws so that nonunion employees would not have to pay union fees as a condition of employment?
I oppose so-called “right-to-work” laws that weaken unions and lead to lower wages and benefits for workers.
13. Do you favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state?
Labels like Sanctuary Cities limit our independent ability to make decisions for the benefit of our communities. I believe we should focus law enforcement resources on keeping New Mexicans safe in their communities, not federal immigration measures. Policies must allow police to earn the trust and collaboration of the people they serve.
14. If an Ethics Commission is approved by voters, at what point do you think ethics complaints should become public?
A proposed ethics commission would have wide jurisdiction over a range of complaints, including against lobbyists, legislators, government employees, and contractors. I believe that in most cases complaints should be made public when the commission finds that they are within its jurisdiction and have merit or credibility.
15. Do you believe the initial police incident reports and videos of arrests and crime scenes should be public?
Simple incident reports and police videos should be public so people can be aware of crime in their area. I support police body cameras too but there may be exceptions to public release to provide for the safety and privacy of victims and because of fear of retaliation in some gang-related crimes.
16. The state faces balloon payments on its Rail Runner debt in 2025 and 2026, a federal requirement for tens of millions of dollars in safety upgrades for the train, and declining ridership. On the other hand, the train is popular with the commuters who rely on it, and the Rail Runner may seek federal funding for the safety changes. Do you support continuing operation of the Rail Runner?
I believe that with continued support and improvements, we can maintain and improve Rail-Runner service between Albuquerque and Santa Fe. We have to be transparent with taxpayers about the costs to maintain this service, but we shouldn’t give up on an infrastructure project we’ve already invested millions in.
17. Do you favor imposing a gross receipts tax on all internet sales?
I will support legislation that raises tens of millions in revenue by leveling the playing field for NM businesses from internet sales for large sellers.
18. New Mexico has more than 100 exemptions and deductions in its gross receipts tax system. Would you favor eliminating some or all of them as part of an attempt to lower the base rate? If so, which ones? If not, why?
I believe we need to take a hard look at all our tax exemptions and deductions to create a fair system that maximizes revenues while lessening burdens on families. We need to prioritize incentives that are proven to create good jobs and target those that don’t produce good results.
19. What would you support to make New Mexico schools safer? Would that include changing New Mexico’s gun laws? If so, what specific changes to the gun laws would you support?
I’ll make New Mexico’s schools safer by first focusing on improving students social and emotional health through proven methods, and providing access to critical behavioral health services with more School-Based Health Centers. And we need tougher gun laws, including an assault weapons ban and effective background checks.
1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain.