Q&A: Senate District 20 Karin Foster

  • NAME: Karin Foster
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
  • OCCUPATION: Mom, attorney, small business owner
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I am an estate planning attorney with over 26 years experience as a homicide prosecutor, oil and gas industry attorney and advocate at NM Legislature; craft beer, small business and state government transparency and accountability advocate; NM State Land Office hearing officer; former professor of oil and gas law at NM Tech and Highlands; mother of two.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.karinfoster.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?

The Legislature needs to trim back on capital outlay promised but not used. If the project, like the Early Childhood Fund is new, then it cannot now be funded, saving $320M. Agency budgets need to be trimmed as well as evinced by the recent EDD  $1.5M giveaway.

  1. 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?

Judge Sarah Singleton’s order should translate into more vocational training, creating ways to use non-traditional teachers and cutting administration costs. Throwing more money at the education problem is not the solution. Creative solutions and accountability need to be considered. COVID may have provided insight into the ability to create more distance learning opportunities for our kids.

  1. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?

We need to completely overhaul the NM tax code. As a small business owner, I know that the tax pyramiding scheme hurts our businesses and economic development opportunity. The GRT picks winners and losers and the revenue stream is volatile as it is so dependent on oil and gas revenues.

  1. Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?

As a former homicide prosecutor in NYC, I saw many young people introduced to the use of illicit narcotics through the seemingly innocent use of recreational marijuana. Marijuana is a gateway drug in that it opens avenues for increased use of hard narcotics and illegal sales. I strongly oppose legalization.

  1. In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and child care 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?

While advocating in Santa Fe, I found that ‘early childhood services’ was a job-creator to fund lobbyists, administrators and everyone other than children in need of education. The Permanent Fund is our ‘nest-egg’ created for the benefit of future generations when resources and revenues are less plentiful.

  1. Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?

I would support voter participation and an open primary if it would require voters to pick one of the major political parties in the primary.  I would not support registering voters to decide their affiliation on Election Day as voter fraud may be an issue. If a voter is serious about exercising their constitutional rights then pre-registering 30 days before the election would make sense.

  1. Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?

As a state legislator, the question of supporting or repealing abortion legislation is moot unless Roe v. Wade 410 US 113 (1973) is overturned.

  1. 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?

With any legislative “merit-based” evaluation system, the question would be who would design the standards and how would it not become politicized? Although there is a greater need for transparency and accountability in state government, as with most legislation, the details and potential unintended consequences control whether the initiative makes sense.

  1. Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?

Transparency in government is an important issue.  However, a lobbyist disclosure does not address the nuances of ‘how the legislative sausage is made’. There are always ongoing negotiations during a session so that lobbyists who were originally ‘against’ may be ‘for’ a bill in the end.

  1. 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?

In FY19 the oil and gas industry generated $3.1 billion or 39% of all general fund revenues, including $435.9 million in education dollars for Bernalillo. Now we are faced with a budget crisis. Solutions: encourage all energy production; support wind and solar; support craft beer and tourism.

  1. 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 an estate attorney I often get called into hospice situations when patients are very ill.  I strongly believe that assisted suicide laws are more of a theoretical question because the determination of capacity to understand the finality of such a demand at end-of life is so difficult to determine.

  1.   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?

I have personally litigated cases against fracking bans as well as against imposing greenhouse cap and trade mandates in NM. Using government power to pick and choose energy sources will ultimately leave New Mexicans with higher energy bills and less revenue for schools, roads and kids.

  1. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?

Crime is an issue in Albuquerque that needs to be addressed with data-driven solutions and transparency. In the age of social media it is shocking that citizens do not have more accurate information or demand more accountability. Although law-enforcement is overwhelmed, the use of citizen groups should be encouraged.

  1. Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?

Transparency in how the budget is crafted should be allowed.  Although there might be significant negotiating that occurs in the process, since the use of taxpayer funds is at issue, the public, if they want to be present, should be present at the actual committee meeting.

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?
  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?