Q&A: House District 42 Kristina Ortez

  • NAME: Kristina Ortez
  • OCCUPATION: Executive Director of the Taos Land Trust
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I have been an advocate for our public lands, clean air and water for 17 years, working at the local, state and federal level. I draft and adhere to budgets, and manage a staff of 7-30 employees (some seasonal).
  • EDUCATION: B.A. from Harvard University; Masters of Public Administration from University of New Mexico

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 need to look at our permanent fund to support the families that are hit the hardest. We can not go back to the austerity measures of the past. They did not work last time and they won’t work this time.

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?

As the mother of two young children in public schools, I am committed to ensuring equitable access to education for any and all who seek it. My family benefited from recent investments in early childhood education, and I strongly believe that we must make increased investments in early childhood education.

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

Changing the GRT we have to make sure that we do not do anything that will punish our small businesses, especially now with COVID-19.

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

I support the legalization of recreational marijuana for adult use. This will put our state on a path for economic prosperity, increase tax revenue, and support our local agricultural economy. By regulating and taxing marijuana we can support community health, and fund education.

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?

We must invest in our children’s future, and this starts with early childhood. I support a constitutional amendment to withdraw additional funds from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to support our state’s working families and our youngest and most vulnerable New Mexicans.

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

I support open primaries.

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

I stand with women and families. A majority of New Mexicans SUPPORT getting rid of this old law that would require every woman to ask for permission from strangers on a hospital before seeking an abortion. Abortion is healthcare and must be kept safe and legal.

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 in government and would support a bill like HB 262 that would disclose projects funded by legislators.

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

I support legislation that requires lobbyists to disclose which bills they are advocating for or against. Transparency is important for democracy and when dark money is spent to help the interest of the wealthy then we should know what their intent is.

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 are facing an unprecedented crisis with COVID 19 coupled with a sudden drop in oil revenues. Additional revenue options include 1) increasing the property tax rate for second homeowners; 2) investing in outdoor recreation to increase local GRTs from tourism; 3) legalizing recreational marijuana; and 4) increasing corporate taxes.

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 will support legislation that allows for End of Life options, such as the Elizabeth Whitefield End of Life Options Act.

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 support only if constitutionally enforceable and with a comprehensive plan that addresses economic concerns for communities dependent on fossil fuel extraction and plans for diversification of our state’s economy. We can achieve 100% carbon-free electricity generation by 2050 and we must pass legislation that helps us do this.

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

I support the efforts of NM SAFE and will support legislation that is safer for families, apolitical, fiscally responsible and evidence based.

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

I believe in transparency in government, particularly as it relates to how taxpayer dollars are spent.

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.