Q&A: Governor candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham - Albuquerque Journal

Q&A: Governor candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham

Governor candidate Michelle Lujan Grisham. (Courtesy Michelle Lujan Grisham)

NAME: Michelle Lujan Grisham

POLITICAL PARTY: Democratic

OCCUPATION: Governor

CITY OF RESIDENCE: Santa Fe

RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: Current governor, former member of Congress, county commissioner, and state Cabinet secretary

EDUCATION: B.A. and J.D. from the University of New Mexico

CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: newmexicansformichelle.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?

My administration diversified our economy by expanding our energy sector, attracting billions in private investment, and helping industries like film and cannabis grow. We created thousands of jobs and $2.5 billion in additional revenue. We must continue diversifying the economy and invest in education to develop New Mexico’s workforce.

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?

I supported a bill keeping violent defendants behind bars pending trial and will keep pushing legislators to pass such a bill so I can sign it, getting violent criminals off the street. I also toughened penalties for violent crimes, and delivered raises and $100 million in funding for law enforcement.

3. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and public safety as New Mexico faces one of the highest violent crime rates in the nation?

Every New Mexican has the right to feel safe in their neighborhood. I have improved public safety by funding police, increasing penalties for violent crime, and addressing the root causes of crime. We can continue making New Mexicans safe by investing in law enforcement and funding mental health and addiction services.

4. Given the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent decision to overturn Roe v. Wade, do you support or oppose codifying abortion protections in state law? And do you support or oppose enacting any restrictions on abortion in New Mexico?

Yes, I support codifying abortion protections. I will always defend every New Mexican’s right to make their own health care decisions. As governor, I repealed New Mexico’s outdated anti-abortion law, and will ensure that we will remain a safe haven from extremist attacks, protecting access to abortion in our state.

5. New Mexico has already implemented several gun control laws in recent years. Would you support or oppose legislation that banned or restricted the sale of AR-15-style semi-automatic weapons, such as raising the age limit for purchasing such weapons? And what about legislation making it a crime to fail to safely secure firearms around children?

I support common-sense gun regulations like banning assault weapons, and by keeping guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them, including children. We can take steps to keep New Mexicans safe from the scourge of gun violence, while also respecting the rights of responsible gun owners.

6. The state agency tasked with keeping New Mexico children safe has faced recent scrutiny over transparency issues and its handling of high-profile child abuse cases. What changes would you support to improve the operations of the Children, Youth and Families Department?

Protecting New Mexico’s children is critical. After years of underfunding and neglect, CYFD is taking steps to improve the services they provide in my administration — but more must be done. That includes increasing accountability, improving reporting procedures, and recruiting more caseworkers to reduce caseload.

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

I signed the first GRT cut in 40 years, delivering tax relief to New Mexico families while making our businesses more competitive. This is in addition to other tax cuts we have implemented. As we grow our economy, we should continue to look at ways to save New Mexicans money.

8. 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?

The people of New Mexico should be given the opportunity to vote on a constitutional amendment to decide whether to pay legislators.

9. 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?

Every child deserves a high-quality education, regardless of who they are or what language they speak. I’ve invested over $1 billion into schools, raised salaries and hired more educators, and improved buildings. I will continue this progress by focusing on early childhood and bilingual education and other data-backed solutions.

10. 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 amendment. Under my leadership, New Mexico became the first state to offer free child care for most families. We must continue to invest in New Mexico’s future by building the best start for our children and this amendment will do that.

11. 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 have committed New Mexico to net-zero by 2050 and made New Mexico an international leader on climate change by aggressively pursuing polluters and expanding our renewable energy sector, creating thousands of jobs. Clean energy is the only way to make our economy more resilient and protect our beautiful state.

12. 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?

Keeping New Mexicans safe is the governor’s most important responsibility and every sitting governor must have the flexibility to implement reasonable measures immediately in an emergency. Without those powers, New Mexicans might be left without evacuation centers during fires, without sandbags during floods, and without PPE in the pandemic.

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

I will continue to lead New Mexico to make improvements to the way capital outlay funds for roads, bridges, school buildings, and more is invested — in order to increase efficiency and accountability while also ensuring that all communities get a fair shot at infrastructure funding.

14. Do you believe former President Donald Trump’s claim that he was the legitimate winner of the 2020 presidential election? (Yes or No answer only, please)

No.

15. What changes, if any, would you support to New Mexico’s election laws?

We must make it easier for New Mexicans to vote while maintaining the safety and security of our elections. That’s why I implemented same day voter registration, automated our voting records, and expanded vote-by-mail during COVID. We should also make Election Day a holiday and expand early voting.

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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