Q&A: House District 50 Candidate Matthew McQueen
- NAME: Matthew McQueen
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Attorney
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Galisteo
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Substantial nonprofit and public service volunteer work; 25+ years as an attorney; small business owner; six years in the Legislature; husband and father of two.
- EDUCATION: BA, Williams College; JD, University of Michigan Law School; MS, University of Michigan School of Natural Resources; MBA, University of New Mexico, Anderson School of Business.
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.McQueenforNM.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?
The need to diversify New Mexico’s economy away from oil and gas has gone from urgent to critical. We should continue to pursue our strengths, including tourism and film. We should invest in tech transfer from the labs, rural broadband, and skills-based education. Cuts, where necessary, must be equitable.
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 have made significant gains in public education, and we need to protect those. We should reexamine our funding formula and increase the education dollars going directly into the classroom. The pandemic has made clear that far too many students lack access to technology and are at risk for hunger.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
Our GRT is a Swiss cheese of exemptions and carve-outs, which increases the burden on lower-income New Mexicans. Our tax code needs an overhaul to close GRT loopholes, restore progressivity so the wealthy pay a fair share, and stop the practice of subsidizing second homes through reduced property taxes.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
It’s time to legalize recreational cannabis while taking great care to keep it out of the hands of our youth, guard against impaired driving, and give clear direction to local business that maintain drug-free workplaces. Recreational cannabis will bring needed jobs and revenue, and New Mexico shouldn’t be left behind.
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?
On the whole, I think our Governor has done an excellent job under difficult circumstances. Existing emergency powers could be strengthened with more clarity and expanded to enable faster response. However, oversight must be ensured to maintain checks and balances.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
I support the right of every woman, in consultation with her family and her doctor as she chooses, to make her own reproductive medical decisions without government interference. Our outdated law is dangerous and needs to be repealed.
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?
Law enforcement must be held accountable if they use excessive force or violate individuals’ civil rights. Too often “qualified immunity” has prevented that. Abolishing qualified immunity is an important public safety reform.
In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and childcare 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 it. The LGPF is designated for education, and universal early childhood education is the single best investment we can make in our state. By increasing the payout by just 1% per year, we can bring transformative change to New Mexico and still preserve the corpus of the 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 believe voters who choose to be members of a political party should be able to pick their own candidates without interference, and the First Amendment right to free assembly protects a political party’s choice to hold open or closed primaries.
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?
Every year I sponsor the bipartisan bill that requires disclosure of capital outlay allocations, and I will continue to do so until it passes. While projects of course must be merit-based, legislators should be able to work with local elected officials to pick the best projects in each district.
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 must diversify both our energy portfolio and our revenue stream. New Mexico has huge potential for renewable resources, and, as Chair of the House Energy, Environment, and Natural Resources Committee, I have worked hard to promote a just transition away from the oil and gas industry.
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?
An outright fracking ban would disrupt a just and steady transition away from the oil and gas industry. Our state has made great progress on our renewable portfolio standards in the utility sector, but there is work left to be done, particularly in the transportation sector.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
The long-term solutions to crime are a safe and secure family life, quality public education, and good job opportunities throughout New Mexico. These will always be priorities. We must fix behavioral health for addiction and increase diversion programming. Crimes with guns or against children should be punished swiftly and justly.
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?
The public should be able to inspect footage recorded by body-worn cameras. Reasonable safeguards can be put in place to protect privacy and shield ongoing investigations.
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?
Education and economic development go hand-in-hand. With an improved educational system, more companies will want to locate in New Mexico and will provide better opportunities for our kids. We should develop our own strengths – such as film, tourism, and tech – not copy our neighbors.
1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens?
2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding?
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.