Q&A House District 17 Deborah Armstrong
- NAME: Deborah “Debbie” Armstrong
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Small Business Owner (Association and Non-Profit Management Company)
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Elected state representative in 2014. Chair, House Health & Human Services Committee; vice-chair, House Rules Committee; member, House Judiciary Committee. Cabinet Secretary, Aging & Long-Term Services Department 2004-2007. Engaged in all facets of healthcare for more than 40 years. Former physical therapist. Inactive attorney. Alumni of Leadership NM.
- JD (UNM School of Law 2001); BS in physical therapy (U of Michigan 1975);
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: DebbieArmstrong4NM.com
1. What steps should the Legislature take to ensure New Mexico has a balanced budget amid falling oil prices and an economic downturn prompted by the coronavirus outbreak?
We should absolutely not simply take an across-the-board percentage cut to the budget. Rather, budget design should be strategic and thoughtful to preserve or expand health care, maintain education, support the unemployed, invest in small businesses hurt in this crisis and expand economic development initiatives.
2. What more, if anything, should the Legislature do to address a court ruling that found New Mexico is failing to provide a sufficient education to all students?
The Legislature has broadly invested a lot of additional funding in public education. Now, we should focus our attention on adequacy of funding and support to children with special needs and Native American and other underserved student populations to make sure adequate systems are in place to achieve desired outcomes.
3. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
I favor reforming our gross receipts tax system to make it more fair and less complicated. To that end, I am open to eliminating special-interest deductions and exemptions; and those that remain should meet a clear public policy or economic objective, with periodic assessment of continued effectiveness.
4. Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
Yes, I support legalizing recreational marijuana and taxing sales. However, it’s not just for tax revenue that I support it. I also believe it will decrease criminal behavior and it is the only way we can regulate the quality and quantity, conduct research and educate on appropriate and responsible use.
5. In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and childcare assistance, and created a new early childhood trust fund. 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?
Yes. Investing early in children is one of the best long-term economic investments we can make, particularly given our record of poverty and poor educational outcomes and child well-being. Such an investment will reap long-term benefits in not only education but workforce readiness, decreasing crime and reliance on public benefits.
6. Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
I support opening primary elections to ensure that all voters can participate in every part of the electoral process. Increased participation strengthens our democracy.
7. Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
I support repealing the antiquated state law that criminalizes abortion and requires that, to be granted one of the very limited exceptions, a woman must seek permission from a hospital-created committee of strangers. Such decisions should be between a woman and her provider, in consultation with her family and faith.
8. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding? Should each legislator be required to disclose which projects he or she funded?
Disclosing projects funded by each legislator is appropriate and I have done so. The capital outlay process needs revamping. Establishing criteria for prioritization of projects would be helpful but there should also be room for some district-specific small projects that may not fit priorities but aren’t effectively funded other ways.
9. Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?
I believe disclosure by lobbyists of which bills they advocate for or against is appropriate and I would support such a requirement.
10. New Mexico is highly reliant on the oil and natural gas industries to generate revenue to fund state programs, as evidenced by recent oil boom and bust cycles. What are the things you would do to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?
Areas that are a particularly good fit for New Mexico and worth maintaining or expanding include cannabis, hemp, film, tourism, tech and space industries, research, small farms, health care, and renewable energy. Also, infrastructure investment and creating a friendly and supportive environment for retirees and an aging population would be good.
11. 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?
As sponsor of the End-of-Life Options Act, I am an advocate for “medical aid in dying,” which allows a competent terminally ill adult, who is able to self-administer medication, to take control of the end of his/her life with dignity, without needless suffering. This is not “suicide,” in usual sense.
12. Would you support or oppose a moratorium on fracking? And should the state impose additional renewable energy mandates as a way to address climate change concerns?
Fracking should not continue to expand unchecked without clear guidance and oversight of where and how it should be allowed, so as to protect our water and geologic structural integrity. I support moving as quickly as we possibly can to renewable energy, as we cannot wait to address climate change.
13. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
We should invest in rebuilding our behavioral health and substance abuse system and address homelessness. We should legalize recreational cannabis and further develop proactive strategies of community policing and pre-trial diversion to keep non-violent offenders out of jail. Economic development and educational investment will also have a positive impact.
14. Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?
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.