Q&A: Governor candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham

  • NAME: Michelle Lujan Grisham
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Member of Congress
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Three term member of Congress, small 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 jobs in New Mexico.

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’ll address our opioid and drug issue and its impact on crime, providing high-quality treatment across New Mexico.

Second, I’ll ensure that our police, prosecutors, and entire justice system have the resources needed to fight crime, pay our officers more, and hire more police to keep our communities safe.

3. New Mexico now spends about $300 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 three and four-year-old children makes a huge difference in cognitive and social development and long-term educational outcomes. This investment pays for itself many times over.

4. 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 if it includes protections for kids, DWI, access for medical cannabis patients, and sensible regulations. We can use this to generate much-needed revenue by taxing sales.

5. 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.

6. What steps would you propose taking to ensure the future solvency of New Mexico’s two public retirement systems? Would you support making state workers and teachers pay more into the pension funds?

I’m committed to working with the boards of New Mexico’s retirement systems to chart a path towards long-term solvency. I will not support cutting benefits as we work to fill damaging vacancies in our classrooms and state government.

7. 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.

8. Do you support or oppose appealing a state judge’s recent decision that said New Mexico has fallen short of meeting its constitutional requirement to provide a sufficient education to all students? And what percentage of the state budget, in your opinion, should go toward K-12 public schools?

I will immediately end the Martinez administration’s appeal. We can’t play politics with our children’s education any longer, and I will work to adequately fund our classrooms and provide necessary supports for at-risk students. Public education is the state’s most important responsibility, and our budget should reflect that.

9. Do you support or oppose the current policy of including student test scores as part of teacher evaluations? If you support the policy, what percentage of the evaluation should the test scores account for?

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.

10. Do you support or oppose updating the current prohibition in the law on assisted suicide in order to allow aid-in-dying under certain medical circumstances?

I support updating the current prohibition. We should provide patients with humane end-of-life options, including medical aid-in-dying for terminally ill competent adults.

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 New Mexico families. I will support a 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 favor making New Mexico a sanctuary state?

Labels like Sanctuary Cities/States 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. Policies must allow police to earn the trust and collaboration of the people they serve.

13. 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 are aware of crime in their area. I support police body cameras 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.

14. 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.

15. 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.

Personal background

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?

No.

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?

No.

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.

No.

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