Q&A: Senate District 20 Idalia Lechuga-Tena
- NAME: Idalia Lechuga-Tena
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democrat
- OCCUPATION: Bilingual Consultant
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: First naturalized woman from México to serve in the NM House of Representatives in the history of our state in 2015. Represented Albuquerque’s House District 21, which sits partly within Senate District 20.
- Appointed International Ambassador for the Global Embassy of Activist for Peace in 2016. Raised in Albuquerque. Serve on multiple boards in our community. Entrepreneur, community activist, rancher, violinist, artist, philanthropist, and fluent in four languages.
- EDUCATION: Degrees in Economics, Political Science with a concentration in International Politics from the University of New Mexico, with international studies in México, Pamplona-Spain, and Paris-France. Fluent in Spanish, French, Italian, and English. Published academic research on immigration and translated to Spanish and French. Product of the Albuquerque Public Schools.
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: idalia4nm.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?
Understand the exact amount NM will receive from the federal government. 2. Work with our congressional delegation to make sure that allocation was fair 3. If budget is not balanced then look at spending. NM has increased spending on state government by 17% over the last 2 years.
- 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 New Mexico legislature passed a moonshot for education spending bill. In the crisis we now find ourselves in, we should wait for at least a couple of legislative sessions until we know if funding was adequate or not.
- What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
NM’s GRT taxes business for the pleasure of doing business here. Most businesses locate elsewhere to avoid paying the gross receipts tax. We should look at ways to either lower or get rid of the GRT. More businesses would come to NM and provide more jobs to our working families.
- Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
Revenue generation is desperately needed. However, there are still concerns in my district as to the long-term health impacts of the recreational use of cannabis that must be considered. Any legalization effort must first resolve concerns about testing and enforce laws to prevent driving under the influence of marijuana. Yes.
- 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?
NM Just appropriated over $300 million for early childhood education. In the event that the education funds were reverted to the general fund because of COVID-19 in a special session, we must bring back land grant permanent fund so that early childhood programs are adequately funded.
- Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
At this point the system is working, however, there needs to be a study to explore voters sentiment on this issue and on how other states with open primaries make it work so that it is fair and equal for all parties.
- Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
Support. I firmly believe that personal decisions about family planning and abortion should remain between a woman, her healthcare provider, her God, and her family, without interference by the government. We are no one to judge.
- 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?
Yes and yes, legislators should be transparent on the capital projects they fund.
- Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?
Yes, I support transparency.
- 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 What are the things you would do to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?
We must realize New Mexico’s renewable energy potential and maximize the creation of wind and solar. The passage of the Energy Transition Act last year was a positive step. New Mexico can lead in aerospace, filmmaking, agriculture, cybersecurity, sustainable and renewable energy industries, bioscience, health, and tourism and outdoor industries.
- 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 have a very ill uncle that made me view this differently. Only the patient knows the suffering. I support it. It is an extremely personal decision that should remain between the patient, their doctor, and their god. We are no one to judge.
- 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 oppose a fracking moratorium. If we shut down oil and gas in New Mexico that means we shut down our schools tomorrow. I want to support responsible and sustainable oil and gas energy in our state for our children and our schools.
- What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
First, make sure APD and the Sheriff’s Department have the resources they need to fight crime. Second, have more detectives investigating crimes and murders. Third, we need judges who are going to make the right decisions and do more to keep the most violent offenders behind bars.
- Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?
Oppose. We should do everything in public view for transparency.
- 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,