Q&A: House District 45 Linda Michelle Serrato
- NAME: Linda Michelle Serrato
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat
- OCCUPATION: Self-Employed
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Santa Fe, NM
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: More than a decade of work in policy, advocacy, and campaigns.
- EDUCATION: Stanford University with a Bachelors in Public Policy
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.lindafornm.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?
Having worked on Capitol Hill for New Mexicans during the Great Recession recovery, I know successful states invested resources into getting federal grants. Also, we need to revise our budget to diversify our revenue beyond oil, increase taxes on out-of-state property owners, and end recent tax cuts for top earners.
- 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?
I’m proud to be endorsed by the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico and believe our diverse communities require innovative, local solutions. Schools need more support staff and research into flexible education models. We should compensate our teachers with competitive packages and incentivize our local teachers to continue professional development.
- What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
New Mexico has a beautiful and rich small business culture. To maintain it, we must tax internet sales at the same rate as local businesses pay. The GRT code is designed to punish brick-and-mortar businesses keeping New Mexico unique. We need to expand our tax base and support local businesses.
- Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
I support legalizing recreational marijuana for individuals over 21 years old, not marketed to children, with regular monitoring to prevent widespread problematic addition and other restrictions included in this year’s Senate bill. This would help balance our budget like Colorado which had a $302 million tax bump last year.
- 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?
Our children deserve a chance to succeed. We need to prioritize support systems for young families, investments in early education, and efforts to identify issues early on. To that end, I would support increasing the disbursement percentage.
- Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
I believe we need increased public input on this issue. Overall, I support engaging as many voters as possible and removing any obstacles to voting.
- Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
We must repeal this law infringing on private decisions between women and their doctors. I’m proud to be endorsed by Planned Parenthood Votes New Mexico because as a mother, I believe my daughter and all woman deserve to make the best decisions for our health without politicians exploiting the issue.
- 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 believe all legislators should disclose their capital outlay requests and, if elected, I would make my capital outlay requests public. I believe a merit-based evaluation should be a part of the decision-making process, but policymaking is an imperfect science. We should allow for the unpredictable.
- Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?
I support lobbyists disclosing which bills they advocate for because New Mexicans are tired of movidas and patrones. I believe our communities value transparency in a citizen legislature and we should welcome it at every opportunity.
- 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 can attract new businesses to New Mexico with improved educational systems and expanded broadband. We can tax high earners and out-of-state property owners their fair share and tax recreational marijuana (ensuring protections are in place). I refuse fossil fuel contributions because New Mexicans deserve a smart budget without bias.
- 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 believe decisions between people and their doctors are personal and should be respected. Patients and doctors must be able to freely discuss all end of life considerations. Still, doctors or hospitals cannot be required to break any belief systems. I have my personal beliefs, but respect individual healthcare rights.
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?
We need a statewide moratorium on fracking because fracking provides short-term economic benefits and can lead to lasting economic and environmental losses. I am proud to be endorsed by the Rio Grande Chapter of Sierra Club and the New Mexico Youth Climate Strike and support renewable energy solutions.
- What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
We need more preventative efforts. Addressing the working poor crisis, increasing short term housing for homeless populations, and increasing early education programs will help our families identify and address issues early. Our police officers deserve the tools they need to protect and increase trust among our community.
- Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?
New Mexicans deserve transparency from their leaders. While security, personnel and other specific reason may require closed-door meetings, budgets are an embodiment of our values as a state and New Mexicans deserve to know the considerations behind our investments and where their representatives stand.
- 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.