Q&A: House District 68 Candidate Karen Bash

  • NAME: Karen Bash
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Retired clergy
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I worked as an early childhood educator, a minister, and a small business owner. I have served one term in the legislature
  • EDUCATION: B.A. from Phillips University, Enid, Oklahoma; M.Ed. (Special Education) from Lamar University, Beaumont, Texas; M.Div. Dubuque Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa.
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: karenbashnm.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?

Falling oil prices underscore the need for a diversified economy. We will certainly have a budget shortfall in 2021, so we need to immediately invest in alternative energy and agriculture including marijuana to increase revenue. It is critical that we don’t have to cut essential programs due to this shortfall.

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 first evaluate how much funding will be available in 2021, but I do support fully funding education and increasing teacher’s salaries. I also a constitutional amendment which would allow the state to use a portion of the Land Grant Permanent Fund to finance early childhood and education.

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

I understand that GRT in New Mexico is among the highest in the nation, so I am open to a simplified tax code. However, at this point, when our state is facing a budget shortfall, I cannot support a tax cut.

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

I support legalizing marijuana as long as all public safety concerns are addressed including driving under the influence and consumption by minors. Our state should no longer allow needed tax money that can fund education and health care to go to other states. I also support maintaining our medical cannabis programs.

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 the governor’s handling of the pandemic and believe that there are emergency powers that executives can use in this situation. I believe that the legislature should have a bipartisan role in the process moving forward to keep citizens safe and safely reopen the economy.

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

I support repealing this law and voted to repeal it in 2019. New Mexicans have been clear in their respect for a woman’s personal decision and keeping that decision between a woman and her provider.

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?

This issue is more of a federal than state issue, but I would support it. I support accountability for both criminals as well as law enforcement.

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 that would go to the voters to further fund early childhood education. Early childhood education serves entire families and invests in their futures. I believe voters should have a say in this issue.

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 support opening primaries to those registered voters who are not affiliated with the Democratic, Libertarian, or Republican parties. Ultimately, these voters pay taxes for these elections and should be included in the process.

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 evaluation system to determine capital outlay spending to assure fiscally sound investments. I am in favor of open and transparent government so I do believe each legislator should be required to make funded projects public.

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 pandemic as well as fluctuating oil and gas revenue underscores the need for a diversified economy. We should start immediately by legalizing recreational marijuana and investing in alternative energy and agriculture.

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 do not support a complete moratorium on fracking, but we do need to see environmental and community impacts before handing out new fracking permits.

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

First, we should expand community policing and restore the trust between the community and police. I firmly support our law enforcement and want to work with them to find solutions. Moreover, I want to take data-driven crime prevention techniques including de-escalation measures while keeping repeat offenders off the streets.

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 the public’s right to inspect footage as long as it meets IPRA requirements and does not affect anyone’s safety.

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?

I am committed to working with the small business to find solutions on competitiveness. I supported the Small Business Recovery Act, and want to see our state invest in infrastructure projects and increased internet access especially in rural areas.

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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