Q&A: Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Zanetti - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: Republican gubernatorial candidate Greg Zanetti

Greg Zanetti

NAME: Greg Zanetti

POLITICAL PARTY: Republican

OCCUPATION: Financial advisor

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Albuquerque

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Brigadier general (retired), U.S. Army/N.M. National Guard; owner, Zanetti Financial

EDUCATION: B.S., United States Military Academy at West Point; master’s in strategic studies, U.S. Army War College; MBA, Boston University

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: zanettiforgovernor.com

1. 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 Legislature take to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?

I believe New Mexico should be the Water, Energy, and Technology State. We have abundant “low-tech” natural resources and brilliant “high-tech” minds. When low-tech and high-tech are combined, economies flourish. For example, New Mexico should pursue water desalination facilities powered by small-modular nuclear reactors to provide both high and low-tech jobs.

2. During the last regular legislative session, there was an unsuccessful push to make it easier to keep certain defendants behind bars until trial. Should New Mexico law be changed to make it easier to hold individuals charged with violent offenses such as murder and first-degree child abuse behind bars until trial?

Absolutely, yes. New Mexico has the second worst violent crime rate in the U.S., due to bad policy from the Roundhouse and a failure of leadership in the Governor’s Office. We must restore pretrial detention for those accused of violent crimes and end the practice of catch and release.

3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety amid a rise in violent crime rates?

We must end the revolving-door policy of allowing violent criminals back out on the streets to reoffend. We must also restore cash bonds, ensure our police have the tools and resources to keep our communities safe, and stop the “Defund the Police” rhetoric that has become popular at the Roundhouse.

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

Move to sales tax GRT harms our economy, stifles wealth creation, and places an unfair burden on smallbusinesses. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s 0.25% GRT reduction was a political stunt. Initially, let’s lower the rate further, end GRT for business services, and reform the exemption process. Ultimately, GRT must be replaced with a more equitable sales tax structure.

5. New Mexico is currently the only state that does not pay its legislators a salary, though lawmakers do get per diem payments and can qualify for a legislative pension. Do you support or oppose a salaried Legislature and, if so, how much should lawmakers be paid?

No, but I would support term limits. Too many of our legislators have become entrenched and no longer represent the will of the people. We need fresh voices and fewer career politicians who are beholden to special interest groups.

6. 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, especially Native Americans and those who don’t speak English as a first language?

We need to fund students, not systems. We must allow for school choice. New Mexico ranks dead last in most national education rankings despite spending more per student than most of our neighbors. Throwing more money at the problem won’t solve it. Structural change is required.

7. What should be the priority as New Mexico seeks to strengthen its health care system? How should the state address a shortage of nurses and other health care workers?

Expand access to care by decreasing bureaucratic red tape, increasing billing transparency, eliminating Medicaid waste, enacting tort reform and encouraging direct primary care and telemedicine. Regarding the health care worker shortage, I support state funding to grow our training programs and provide scholarships. I support tax incentives to retain medical professionals.

8. 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 the proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot that would withdraw more money from the state’s permanent school fund to increase funding for early childhood services and K-12 education?

While I support early childhood education, I oppose tapping into the state’s permanent school fund because of the significant loss of compounding interest over time that will likely result in future funding shortfalls. I support funding early childhood education through choice-driven revenue streams that fund students not systems.

9. In order to address climate change and air quality issues, do you support or oppose legislation limiting greenhouse gas emissions and requiring the state achieve net-zero emissions by 2050?

I strongly oppose the New Mexico Energy Transition Act. It has already resulted in increased energy costs at the worst possible time. We are currently at only 20% renewables. There is increasing concern about the reliability of our electrical grid. A move to 100% renewables will only exacerbate the situation.

10. New Mexico recently became the 17th state to regulate and tax recreational cannabis sales? What, if any, changes do you believe should be made to the existing law?

I would support changes to the law that are focused on keeping cannabis out of the hands of children, ensuring the rules for retailers are properly enforced, stamping out illegal grow operations and educating the public about the dangers and consequences of “stoned driving.”

11. 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?

Yes, I believe a governor’s emergency powers should be time-limited and only allowed to be extended by a vote of the legislature. In most cases, statewide mandates are not necessary, and those powers should be trusted to individual municipalities and communities.

12. 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?

We should be addressing ways to increase the safety, transparency, and fairness of our election system. I support strengthening our election laws by implementing voter ID and statewide risk-limiting audits to ensure all votes are properly counted. Let’s start there before tackling the current primary system.

13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?

Capital outlay funding decisions need to be more transparent, and legislators should be required to disclose the projects they are funding. My worry about a merit-based system is that it could result in unfair standards and would be prone to political hijacking.

14. Do you support or oppose authorizing an independent redistricting commission to perform the once-per-decade task of redrawing New Mexico’s political boundary lines?

I support an independent redistricting commission to end the practice of gerrymandering. We need to put an end to partisan influence that allows for a party in power to stay in power by drawing district maps that favors them.

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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