Q&A: House District 45 Pat Varela

  • NAME: Patrick “Pat” Varela
  • OCCUPATION: Santa Fe County Treasurer
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: 7 ½ Years as County Treasurer, NMDOT Line Manager, 15 years in private manufacturing as manager.
  • EDUCATION: BA in Business Administration from Colorado Technical Institute
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.patrickvarela4santafe.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?

It is imperative that a special session be called when it is safe to convene. They need to look at funding sources and the current fiscal budget to make adjustments to balance the current budget. They will have to do the same with FY21 budget that was passed this year.

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 Legislature should listen to groups of teachers from all the regions of the state. I have spoken with teachers and they have indicated that some programs they have been instructed to use are not successful. Since the teachers know what works and what does not, their voices should be heard.

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

The taxation on Social Security benefits needs to be removed. The state would have a better return from that tax going into GRTs as the beneficiary is likely to spend what is taxed in local economies as the money

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

If the taxing model benefits programs such as Pre-K, Medicaid, rehab, recovery, teacher’s salaries, senior and veterans, I would support it.

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 the increase. Investing in early childhood is an investment in New Mexico’s future.

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

I support.

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

There is already a U.S. Supreme Court ruling dated in 1973 and New Mexico should follow the law of the land.

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 and for transparency, each legislator should disclose what project they are funding.

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

I support. They already disclose their names, who they are lobbing for and if they support or oppose a bill during committee sessions.

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?

Work with the Land Commissioner to create long term leases for renewable energy companies to come into New Mexico and use our land to produce energy. Also I would like to amend NMSA 6-10-10 to make Green Bonds permissible in this state.

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 oppose.

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 a moratorium and furthermore the state should impose a mandate on all oil and gas companies as well as energy production plants to reduce their carbon footprint by 50% by 2030 and replace the percentage with renewable energy.

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

Crime has been on an upward trend especially in larger cities and the Legislature need to provide the resources needed to combat the raising crime rate. The Legislature needs to assist cities with their public safety officers by providing them with additional monies to increase the law enforcement personnel.

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

I support.

Personal background

 Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens? The ABQ Journal discovered I had placement and removal of a NM lien in October 2010 when I ran for County Treasurer. It was when I was going through a divorce and was unaware of the lien. It was on for a total of 10 or 12 days and payment probably crossed paths.

 Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding? No

 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