Q&A: Senate District 29 Candidate Paul A. Baca
- NAME: Paul A. Baca
- POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
- OCCUPATION: Small business owner
- CITY OF RESIDENCE: Belen
- RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: No political experience; extensive community leadership involvement
- EDUCATION: Attended NMSU, studied business/finance
- CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: paul4nm.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?
As a small business owner, I understand how to operate during tough economic times. It is time for New Mexico to diversify its economy by investing in renewable and alternative energy as well as infrastructure. We’ll always have to balance the budget, but we need to focus on increasing revenue.
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?
New Mexico needs to look at education as an investment. We should support better programs for children at early ages and more options that would help parents including after school programs. The data is clear – the more we invest now, the more we see payoffs in the future.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
New Mexico communities rely on GRT for revenue. As a business person I understand the pyramiding that can exist with gross receipts tax, however, until a new source of revenue is created, New Mexico should continue its current gross receipts tax system in order to properly fund communities and its programs.
Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?
I strongly support legalizing recreational cannabis and taxing its sales. The industry should be legalized, regulated and taxed. This would reduce the black market that exists, create jobs and revenue for New Mexico that we desperately need for education and other critical 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?
During emergency times, the governor does have power to mandate some things, including masks, which I support. If we don’t act now on the virus, our economy will be in trouble for decades to come. I believe however that the Legislature should be involved in future discussions that involve law.
Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?
I support in repealing this outdated law. The government should not come between a woman and her doctor.
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?
Qualified immunity deals with federal courts, so New Mexico won’t deal with this as much – but I strongly believe in accountability for everyone, and this includes law enforcement, who I greatly respect and appreciate.
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 properly funding education and investing in education at all levels. The Land Grant Permanent Fund is often times called a “rainy day fund,” we are in the middle of a storm, it’s time that we properly invest in New Mexico’s future.
What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its election laws and primary system? There should be better and easier access to voting. New Mexico has done a good job in creating convenience voting centers, we need to expand on this. Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?
I support allowing these voters to vote in the primary. After all, they pay taxes for these elections just like those voters registered to a major party, and have to deal with the consequences of who is elected. Ultimately, this is good for democracy.
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 and yes. Transparency in government has been severely lacking in New Mexico for years, and it is critical that citizens come to a place where they can trust the process.
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?
Legalization of recreational cannabis is the best start. However, we need to offer tax incentives for the investment in renewable energy and invest in education, which will attract industry that will create better paying jobs.
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 am not prepared to end all fracking, although I would consider holding new licenses until we can better understand environmental effects. The state should require that renewable energy is included in new construction of public facilities.
What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?
We need to invest in mental health and treatment as well as substance abuse and treatment. Police should be properly funded and supported, so they can assess situations and then refer the situation to the proper channel. Incarceration is not treatment and is not solving the community crime issues.
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?
Under certain public records requests, I may support the public’s right to inspect, but the information can be so sensitive to courts, it would have to be extenuating circumstances.
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?
First, we need to have a well-educated workforce. Invest in training programs, including an extensive expansion of our technical and vocational training programs. Companies looking at our state look at our school system. We need to change the foundation, the school system and build our economy based on that.
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.