NAME: Tara Jaramillo
POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic
OCCUPATION: Speech language pathologist, CEO of Positive Outcomes Inc.(Founded in 1999)
CITY OF RESIDENCE: Socorro
RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: CEO, Positive Outcomes LLC, 1999 - current; Socorro Consolidated School Board Member, 2021-current; chair, Socorro Democratic Party, 2018-2020; chair, NM Next Generation Council 2020 – present; Family: four children, five grandchildren
EDUCATION: New Mexico State University, B.A. in special education, 1993; New Mexico State University, master’s in speech language pathology, 1995
CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: tarajaramillofornm.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?
As with all good business practices, New Mexico must diversify by building on our strengths like film, cannabis, renewable energy, outdoor recreation, tourism, local food production, and support for local businesses. I support repealing tax cuts on the wealthiest and exempting income tax on military retirement.
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?
As a family and child advocate, I believe that our focus must be on children’s safety and welfare. I do believe that when determining whether an individual should remain behind bars until trial, there should be strong evidence to hold them behind bars.
3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety amid a rise in violent crime rates?
We need to ensure first responders are fully funded and staffed. We must also recognize that due to a lack of mental health options in New Mexico for over a decade, that the root causes of much crime (drug abuse and mental health) must also be addressed.
4. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?
We need to lower the gross receipts tax, get rid of loopholes, and replace that revenue with progressive taxation. I support exempting income tax on military retirement.
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?
Support. When our leaders look more like the community they represent, the better we will be. Right now only retired or well-to-do people can afford to serve in the Legislature. We need working class people involved in government who understand what New Mexico families need.
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?
Although we have made great strides to increase educator salaries and early childhood education funding, more must be done. The Martinez-Yazzie lawsuit established priorities and remedies that the state agreed upon, including that all students — regardless of geography or race — should have access to the best education. These agreements must be enforced.
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?
Just as we have done with teaching, we must make sure New Mexico offers competitive salaries for nurses, doctors, and other health care workers. In addition, we must provide educational incentives and loan forgiveness for health care workers who choose to work in rural communities in New Mexico.
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?
I strongly support this constitutional amendment to increase funding for early childhood programs.
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?
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?
We need to limit multi-national corporations and place an emphasis on supporting homegrown, local businesses to create equal footing within the cannabis industry.
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?
The current system is working well.
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?
New Mexico must do more to make voting more accessible. A focus on safe, secure, and varied voting options should exist, including drop boxes in each county and more early voting options in rural and tribal lands. I believe if you want to vote in a primary, register with a party.
13. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?
I strongly support capital outlay becoming fully transparent. I am uncertain that a merit-based system could fully capture the unique needs of rural New Mexico.
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?
The Citizen Redistricting Committee — an independent, nonpartisan committee — now used for the first time, seemed to work well.
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.