Q&A: House District 38 Democratic candidate Ravi Bhasker - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: House District 38 Democratic candidate Ravi Bhasker

Ravi Bhasker

NAME: Ravi Bhasker

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Medical doctor private family practice, hotel ownership

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Socorro

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Mayor of Socorro for 32 years

EDUCATION: University of Kansas, Bachelor of Science and medical degree

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: RaviForNM.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?

A total overhaul of our tax structure at all levels to ensure we are competitive with our neighboring states. To attract the employers, we need to offer safe communities, an educated workforce and a fair tax structure.

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?

Yes. The first and most important role of government is to ensure a safe community.

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

One step is making it easier to retain those charged with violent crimes. Judges need more latitude in sentencing. More police officers with improved funding for police, especially for rural communities, more training of police officers. Programs to attract police officers such as allow for rehiring of retired police officers.

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

New Mexico is the only state utilizing gross receipts tax with problems of double taxation and benefiting out of state providers over local businesses. The concept of gross receipts should be eliminated or replaced with sales tax.

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.

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?

Ensure every student in New Mexico has access to high-speed internet and increase the funding formula related to “at-risk” kids especially in rural New Mexico. We need to encourage and offer incentives to teachers speaking Native languages.

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?

Health issues are my main focus. I served two years in the National Health Service in Carrizozo. I understand the problems facing rural health care. We need to offer student loan forgiveness for serving in rural New Mexico; as well as other incentives such as low interest, low down payment home loans.

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?

Support.

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?

Support the goal.

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?

Support safeguards to keep cannabis from children and ensure edibles are not packed in a way to entice kids. Other needs to regulate may develop over time.

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 Office of the Governor should have emergency powers during any declared time of crisis. There should be a set time frame (120 or 180 days) after which the Legislature must renew the authorization, or restrict the authorization.

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?

I see no need for changes at this time.

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

I would support an evaluation system of each submission to advise legislators as to the feasibility of each project, but the final decision would be the individual legislator who knows their communities best.

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 the system that was used successfully this redistricting with an independent commission advising the Legislature.

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.

In 2003, I received a DWI. It was a lesson I have never forgotten. I have not been stopped for any traffic infraction since.

 

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