Q&A: Senate District 31 Melissa Ontiveros
- NAME: Melissa Ontiveros
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Director of Thriving Families
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Las Cruces
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Co-president of New Mexico Public Health Association, co-chair of LC3 Behavioral Coalition, LC Resilience coalition, Community Action Agency (employer), director of Thriving Families, Grant County Poverty Coalition-Steering Community, Hidalgo County-executive committee for Pyramid Coalition, Sierra County Health Council and Opioid Coalition, Constellation- field operator, New Mexico Allied Council on Tobacco coalition
- EDUCATION: Dual BA in political science and sociology from UNM and a master’s in marriage and family counseling U of P, Dual Master in Public Administration and Sociology from NMSU, Certified Developmental Specialist III, Early Interventionist, and Registered Behavioral Technician.
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: https://melissafornm31.com
- 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?
As with any business we should never rely on one funding source. It’s important that our state consider institutional reforms, including longer forecasting and multi-year budgeting, yielding long term gains. As senator I support diversifying economic capital with solar energy, cannabis, and other sources of income that are more sustainable.
- 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?
It is important that we advocate for early childhood education combined with nutritional, health, and literacy programs. This would prevent large losses of potential cognitive ability and can help reduce the large intelligence gap between children from severely deprived environments and those from privileged backgrounds.
- What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
I support the New Mexico 2019 new tax package that would overturn gross receipts, corporate income tax, and personal income tax rules.
- Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
If we want to grow NM’s economy, we cannot keep postponing the recreational marijuana bill. Sales tax for legalizing marijuana would put New Mexico in the forefront for economic development and job creation; and fund costly education reforms, re-establishing our behavioral health system, and provide prevention and rehabilitation programs.
- 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?
As senator I would support increasing funding for early childhood education services and programs. Studies support an increase in cognitive, social and emotional development is produced by early childhood education programs. Thus reducing the large intelligence gap between children from severely deprived environments and those from privileged environments.
- Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
I support closed primaries, to preserve a party’s freedom of association by better ensuring that only bonafide members of the party influence who that party nominates. It also reduces sabotage, or “party crashing.”
- Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
I will support and protect the women of New Mexico and their rights to have dominion over our own bodies.
- 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?
I support transparency. The money belongs to the taxpayers. We are working for the voter, the voter is not working for us! As a senator, I will listen to my constituents and use the money to benefit their needs. I will be transparent on how and where the money is spent.
- Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?
I support transparency at all levels. If you are working for or representing the people of New Mexico, then you have a responsibility to be transparent, efficient, and effective.
- 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?
We need to develop long-term goals, and create data-driven strategies. I support comprehensive programs to recruit, retain, and expand a diverse range of business and industry. Identifying economic systems with high potential to drive growth and economic diversification based on regional strengths, business trends, and expertise.
- 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 law on assisted suicide. Death can cause unbearable suffering and pain. It may also mean leaving the family with unnecessary suffering and cost. Finally, the right to assisted suicide is an inherent right and liberty which cannot be denied to those who are dying.
12: Would you support or oppose a moratorium on fracking?
Yes, I support a moratorium on fracking. I support and advocate for policy that promotes cleaner air, water, and land. Our state cannot survive without ample water resources, inexpensive and reusable energy, and the implementation of eco-friendly practices. A healthier environment provides security, well-being, and sustainability for New Mexicans.
- What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
We cannot address public safety without addressing social, economic, and environmental conditions that are linked to crime. Research shows that communities are safer when residents have stable jobs, high-quality schools, social services, and clean and vibrant public spaces.
We have to stop putting Band-Aids on the outcome and expecting solutions!
- Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?
I oppose legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings. I will push for transparency at all levels of public policy. Again, we are public servants working for the citizens of New Mexico. We should never forget who we are representing and working for….
- Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
- Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
- 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.