Q&A: Senate District 29 Candidate Gregory A. Baca

  • NAME: Gregory A. Baca
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
  • OCCUPATION: Attorney/business owner
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Belen
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Attorney/business owner/incumbent senator
  • EDUCATION: Naval Nuclear Power School – U.S. Navy; Engineering Laboratory Technician School – U.S. Navy; Radiation Controls and Monitoring School, Associate Science sociology – University of the State of New York; Bachelor of Science Business Administration – University of Phoenix; Juris Doctor — University of New Mexico School of Law
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: BacaForSenateNM.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?

Place a moratorium on all spending increases within the state government. Eliminate the recent pay increases at the State cabinet level positions. Reopen our state fully to regain our tax base and help recovery.

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 reevaluate our education system opting for smaller districts and local control with reduced administration while empowering our teachers to teach rather than perform social work functions. We also need to hold parents accountable for presenting their children “ready to learn.”

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

We need to evaluate gross receipts in the framework of an overall tax reform where we have a flatter code that reduces the number of special exemptions and instead provides a broader yet lower percentage across the board.

Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales? I do not support. We have no known method of testing impairment for drivers who may be under the influence of marijuana. We have many other opportunities for increasing our state tax base by growing business. We should focus on those proven and more productive methods.

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?

Executive power should be checked. I have introduced the “Terminator Bill” which would cause an automatic termination of executive issued health orders after two weeks and could only be continued or amended by approval from the Legislature. This would give the people of the state a voice in these matters.

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

I oppose repeal of that law and instead will support life and give voice to the innocent unborn who cannot speak for themselves.

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?

No. I support law enforcement and recognize that their already difficult job should not be further hindered by threat of lawsuit for simply performing their duties. There are currently laws in place to address bad actors who overstep their authority.

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 would oppose withdrawal from the Permanent Fund. By withdrawing those funds, we decrease the yearly interest our state receives from the fund. In a year such as this with reduced revenue we will be dependent on that revenue and glad the fund has been kept intact.

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 freedom in voting and since elections are paid for by all citizens, they should be able to participate.

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 believe the current system is merit based since local government bodies, who are more familiar with their projects, submit only those projects they deem worthy of funding at a local level. I will publicly disclose any project funded through this seat to anyone who requests that information.

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 need to make our state more attractive to a broad base of businesses by making a simpler and fairer tax code. We need to resist the urge to impose legislation on business and instead opt for a free market with few barriers for entry by those looking to relocate or start up.

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 would not. It would be irresponsible to the people of New Mexico to hamstring the industry that generated $3.1 billion (almost half) of our total state budget without having some alternate source of revenue as replacement. Mandates would be contrary to the health of this industry we depend on.

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

Restructure the catch and release bail reform policy we have instituted in favor of keeping those who are dangerous off our streets while they await trial. Reconstruct the criminal code to provide for smarter and more consistent sentencing for those who are convicted. Rehabilitation when possible, incarceration for the violent.

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 examination of footage except in those instances where inspection could endanger witnesses or strike at the integrity of a law enforcement body’s investigation.

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?

Our state needs to first get crime under control to be attractive. We then a need a well-trained workforce to serve these businesses and provide a stable predictable environment for growth, one with an equitable tax code and less red tape.

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?

Not personally. I do file bankruptcies for persons and businesses as part of my legal practice.

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.

Public Affray 1992; DUI 2003

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