Q&A: Senate District 28 Siah Correa Hemphill

  • NAME: Siah Correa Hemphill
  • OCCUPATION: School Psychologist
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Silver City
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: President, Grant County Federation of Democratic Women, State Central Committee Member
  • EDUCATION: M.A. School Psychology, B.S. Elementary Education
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: siahforsenate.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?

We need to embrace the concept of economic fairness. That means repealing the 2013 corporate tax giveaway, and returning income tax to a progressive tax rate. We need to review and overhaul all tax credits, deductions, and rebates and eliminate ones not needed. I will not support cuts to healthcare and education.

2. 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?

We need to meet the needs of all our students—especially in rural New Mexico. Kids with disabilities and those who are at-risk need to be provided social skills curriculum, as well as bilingual and bicultural curriculum.

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

New Mexico has over 100 exemptions and deductions in its gross receipts tax system. Unfortunately, the legislature has no meaningful way to evaluate their effectiveness. We need to assess and close these loopholes and strengthen the tax expenditure budget law to ensure tax breaks aren’t just handouts to special interests.

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

I support legalizing recreational marijuana in New Mexico as a way to free up law enforcement to address more pressing criminal activity. With proper regulation and taxation, marijuana sales could bring in hundreds of millions of dollars of new tax revenue for schools, roads, and healthcare.

5. 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?

I support a constitutional amendment to use a small percentage of money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to invest in our children so we start to reverse the cycles of poverty and trauma caused by years of underfunding education and mental health services.

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

Support—we need greater voter participation in our elections.

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

I support the decriminalization of abortion in New Mexico. We need to focus on ensuring women have access to reproductive healthcare and family planning, and men and women have paid maternity and paternity leave and access to quality childcare.

8. 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. The millions of dollars in capital outlay funding given to legislators for projects in our community is taxpayer money—and it should not be done in secret or used as political favors. Unlike my opponent, I will publicly disclose to the media what projects get funded.

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

The relationship between legislators and lobbyists is too close. I support transparency requirements for lobbyists to ensure accountability, to reduce real or perceived corruption, and to help restore the public faith in government.

10. 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 build upon our strengths: renewable energy, wind and solar, outdoor recreation, tourism, local food production, and hemp. We need to continue to increase investments in local small businesses to help them restart and thrive.

11. 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 aid-in-dying. End-of-life decisions are gut-wrenching personal decisions that should be made without the interference of government and politicians.

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 can begin to reduce the environmental consequences of fracking while also moving aggressively to wind and solar energy. We need to be laser focused on diversifying our economy to smooth out the boom-and-bust cycle of oil and gas.

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

We need to invest more in public education, job training, mental health services, evidence-based drug treatment programs, and end the school-to-prison pipeline.

14. 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 the practice of closed-door meetings especially on matters as significant as the budget. I support increased transparency in government.

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? Yes, I filed for bankruptcy in 2004, after my 4-year-old son was diagnosed with bone cancer and needed a year of chemotherapy and a left leg amputation.

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