Q&A: House District 68 Candidate Giovanni Coppola

  • NAME: Giovanni Coppola
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
  • OCCUPATION: Vice president of Coppola Supply
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Business owner and operator for 9 years.
  • EDUCATION: Some college
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: coppolafornm.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?

Fiscal responsibility is truly the primary objective of the New Mexico House of Representatives. The legislature, particularly in the last two years, has spent way beyond a responsible level and did not heed any warnings. I believe we should add a constitutional amendment requiring specific levels of reserves for each 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?

I believe our education results are embarrassing and it cripples our state in many ways. A quality education accessible to all is critical for the future success of our state. We need to reform our education system from top to bottom in order to change the status quo.

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

New Mexico’s gross receipts tax is one of the most confusing and burdensome in the country. I believe eliminating the GRT system and adding a flat sales tax for the entire state would be the most ideal. At a minimum I believe the GRT should be uniform across the state.

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

I believe the legalization of marijuana presents a great opportunity to grow revenues for our state. Other states have been successful with legalization and I believe we can work with them to find out what worked and what did not.

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?

Yes I believe the powers of any governor should be more limited. Specifically there should be a time frame. Crisis happens fast and immediate response is often necessary. Once a specific amount of time has passed a governor should then be required work with the legislature for further action.

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

In 1973 Roe v. Wade nullified the 1969 law. As a legislator my goal is to look forward and build an environment where life can flourish. I believe policies that ensure safe neighborhoods, good schools, and a strong economy are the most effective ways to promote and protect life.

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 do not. I do however believe all public employees and officials should be held to the highest of standards. I believe we need to have stronger penalties for wrongdoing and negligence. I also believe we need reforms that help us quickly identify any bad actors and remove them.

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 believe increasing investments in our children’s future is of the utmost importance. However this global health crisis has emboldened my belief that raiding our last bastion of fiscal responsibility would be unacceptable. I would oppose any measure to withdraw more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund.

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 oppose opening the state’s primary elections. I believe the current system that allows major parties to nominate their preferred candidates works well. Once nominated those candidates then appear on the general election ballot and can be voted for or against by any registered voter.

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 would support a merit-based system. I believe capital outlay should be proportionally allocated to each district based upon economic productivity. I also believe proper disclosure of capital outlay funds is very important.

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?

The legislature needs to create an economic environment for New Mexico that puts us in the most competitive position in the Southwest. Cutting taxes and regulations is a proven way to incentivize new investment. Growing all sectors of a diversified economy is the best way to protect against future downturns.

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?

The reality is our energy sector and “fracking” provide 40% of our state’s budget. I cannot support a moratorium that wipes out almost half our revenue with no immediate replacement. I believe investing in future energy technology is critical. Government mandates though often come with negative unintended consequences.

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

First we must increase funding and support for law enforcement. The legislature must also do a better job of ensuring accountability and better results. We need reforms that prevent repeat and violent offenders from being immediately released. Lastly, input from those on the front lines, must be considered first.

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 believe maximum transparency is always the best way to ensure accountability. There must be a system however that protects an individual’s privacy particularly those that may be a minor or a third party in the video.

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 reason we are so far behind economically, often to our immediate neighbors, is our tax policy. We need to dramatically cut our tax rates both personal and corporate. If we can’t match or beat Texas, which is my goal, we should at least be lower than Colorado and Arizona.

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.

Seven years ago in 2013 I was stopped for the suspicion of driving under the influence. That case was dismissed. I have never been convicted of any crime.

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