Q&A: House District 40 Candidate Roger Montoya

  • NAME: Roger Montoya
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Community organizer/artist
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Velarde
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Co-founder of Moving Arts Española (2008); co-founder of La Tierra Montessori School of the Arts and Sciences (2011), founded Arts in the Schools program for the Española Public Schools (2002).
  • EDUCATION: Long Beach City College, A.A.; attended California State at Long Beach
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: RogerMontoyaforNM.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?

We must be fiscally responsible to meet our obligations to health care and educational funds wisely. On Aug. 19 the State Land Office announced they had collected $1 billion from oil and gas leases; therefore, I think the coffers continue to bring in resources ensuring we can balance our budget.

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 must properly fund education. The Martinez-Yazzie case clearly found that we are not meeting our “basic obligations” to our students. With a $20 billion fund, there is no reason why we can’t provide a world class equitable education system to New Mexico’s kids.

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

In an ideal world – I would change our taxation system completely. We have too many loopholes and exemptions that overwhelmingly affect and tax impoverished New Mexicans. I would support a progressive tax system.

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

I support legalization and taxation.

Do you believe changes should be made to the emergency powers held by a governor during a pandemic or other time of crisis. If so, do you believe such powers should be expanded or reduced and in what specific ways?

I support ensuring the governor has the powers necessary to keep New Mexicans safe. The pandemic caught most governments off guard, we are fortunate because Governor Lujan Grisham had a background in public health. Our governor wants what’s best for New Mexico, as do I.

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

I do not believe politicians should interfere with a woman’s personal health care decisions, and it’s time we repeal this antiquated state law.

Do you support or oppose enacting a new state law that would allow police officers and other public officials to be sued individually by abolishing the defense of qualified immunity?

I believe that we should have certain exceptions for those who have committed a crime and should not have immunity. I believe those few are very limited instances and the majority of officers never have issues.

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?

Yes, I support a constitutional amendment to access additional funds from the Land Grant Permanent Fund. These resources should not only address early childhood education but by our short comings based on the Martinez-Yazzie legal decision.

What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its election laws and primary system? Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?

I would support any laws that encourage participation in our democracy and ensure voting is secure, and convenient. Yes, I support opening the state’s primary elections to all voters.

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, I support a merit-based capital outlay system, ensuring we fund essential infrastructure projects across New Mexico. I believe in complete transparency and believe New Mexicans should know how their tax dollars are used. Legislators must let go of these archaic systems that prevent 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 cycles. What steps should the state take to diversify its economy and revenue base?

We should build on our economic strengths in renewable energy, water sustainability, value-added agriculture, smart grid technology and rural health and medical sciences. We need to build support for our local, small businesses.

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 believe we must transition to renewable energy as quickly as possible to address climate change. The 2019 Energy Transition Act is a good framework energy for helping us reach our renewable energy goals.

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

I support expanding successful jail diversion programs, like the Rio Arriba Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion program that prioritizes treatment over incarceration for low-level drug users. There’s enormous public benefit to people coming off drugs and returning to productive members of society.

Do you support or oppose the public’s right to inspect footage taken by cameras worn by law enforcement officers? Under what circumstances, if any, should police video be withheld from the public?

I support transparency in all cases, with proper procedures in place to protect minors and video having to do with the prosecution of a crime, that cannot be released immediately. Law enforcement agencies should not have anything to hide, therefore they should feel comfortable allowing the public to inspect their body-cam footage.

Members of New Mexico’s business community contend some state laws and regulations need changing so the state can better compete with Texas and Arizona when it comes to attracting companies. What steps do you believe should be taken to improve New Mexico’s economic competitiveness?

The most important thing we can do is invest in our education system, so that we have a skilled and prepared workforce in New Mexico. Our priorities should not be attracting business from out of state but encouraging people to start a small business, these entrepreneurs are the backbone of the economy in House District 40 and rural New Mexico.

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

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