Q&A: Senate District 35 Candidate Neomi Martinez-Parra

  • NAME: Neomi Martinez-Parra
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
  • OCCUPATION: Retired teacher, special education
  • CITY OF RESIDENCE: Lordsburg
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Educator, NEA member, board member-Community Action Agency, DPNM Labor, and Hispanic Caucuses. Former: DPNM vice-chair, Association for State Chairs, SCC, LULAC, DNC-Rural, Women’s, Labor and Hispanic Caucuses, Budget/Finance, and Judicial Council Committees.
  • EDUCATION: M.Ed Special Education Cross Categorical; Bachelor’s in Gen Ed
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.Neomi4NMSenate.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?

We may be facing an unprecedented budget deficit of nearly $1 billion next year. Spending cuts are inevitable. However, I will fight to ensure that state agencies, like education, are protected. Unencumbered capital outlay and new tax revenues from recreational marijuana and clean energy could help balance the budget without massive universal cuts.

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?

It is disgraceful that the Martinez administration under-funded education to the extent that it violated this state’s Constitution. Legislators from both parties should do all they can to improve funding for education and, consequently, our dismal national ranking. I hope to be a champion for education, if elected to the State Senate.

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

The pandemic has decimated commerce and tourism in our state. I support measures that keep small, local businesses — who have been hit the hardest – in business, while giving local governments support and resources as well. Examples include internet sales taxes and GRT distribution to municipalities and counties when Federal funds are not available.

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

Our state needs to diversify its revenue. Colorado collected over $300 million in 2019 marijuana tax revenue supporting youth and public health, mental health services and state and local governments. I support legalizing and taxing the sale of marijuana, as long as we have the right regulations in place to protect our children.

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 believe that the emergency powers in place are there for a reason. The lives of many New Mexicans were saved by exerting these powers. New Mexico has remained in the top five or six states in testing, per capita, and has maintained some of the lower rates of infection in the nation.

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

New Mexico has an old law that bans abortion and it still exists. A majority of New Mexicans support getting rid of this old law and keeping this very personal decision between a woman and her health care provider, and without politicians, or a group of strangers, interfering.

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 provides law enforcement officers with protection from civil lawsuits when their own conduct does not violate clearly established laws or constitutional rights. This immunity should not be abolished. But when officers break the law they should be held accountable — including being sued individually. No one is above the law.

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?

New Mexico ranks lowest in the nation for overall child well-being. This is not just unfortunate — it is unacceptable. The Legislature must do all it can to improve the quality of life for our children, our future. I think that LGPF funds could be included in that vital investment.

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?

New Mexico is just one of nine states in America with closed primaries. The Legislature should do all it can to include, not disenfranchise, Independent and Declined to State voters who pay taxes in New Mexico yet have no voice at the polls in critical primary elections.

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?

The state decides how much capital outlay money there is to spend annually, but legislators decide how and where it is spent. The process should be more transparent and devoid of unethical reward systems. Taxpayers should know how and where legislators choose to appropriate every dollar of capital outlay funding.

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?

Tourism, hit hard by COVID19, is also a primary economic driver in New Mexico. As mentioned above, we need to diversify revenue to include recreational marijuana and clean energy. Meanwhile, we need to attract and retain new businesses and initiatives such as outdoor recreation and ecotourism to move our state forward.

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?

We need to figure out a way to transition to cleaner energy. We need solutions that include and protect all the workers in the mining and drilling industry. But climate change is real and I fully support the clean energy movement.

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

I support recent legislative efforts to support our first responders, hold violent criminals accountable and increase penalties for repeat offenders. Update training, education at all levels and increase access to mental and behavioral health services.

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?

For years, New Mexico has had the highest rates of people killed by police in the country. I support legislation requiring police officers to wear body cameras to eliminate unlawful use of force. Footage should be available to the public, but mainly via a controlled court setting.

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 believe we need to attract and retain new businesses to compete in today’s challenged economy. Perhaps more important post-COVID is to support the expansion of existing local business and entrepreneurship driven both by NMED and local economic development organizations. We need to expand programs like LEDA and JTIP as well.

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?

As a previous business owner, our company submitted incomplete tax forms. Therefore, our company and property were subject to tax liens. An audit was conducted and garnishments were implemented. The IRS later ruled in favor of our company and a reimbursement was issued.

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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