by Shaun Griswold
What would you do to create well-paying jobs that will keep New Mexicans employed in the state?
Susana Martinez: Recent reports show that in the past year our state suffered the second largest drop in employment out of the 50 states. Clearly, we do not have a competitive environment for job creation or retention, and bold change is needed. We must reform our regulatory and tax systems to make it easier for businesses to choose New Mexico as their home, rather than burden them with red tape and more taxes.
I have laid out a detailed economic recovery plan that has specific provisions to eliminate waste, make New Mexico competitive with other states and countries, encourage the development of our energy sector, and improve our business climate. By changing the direction our state is headed, we will signal to job creators that New Mexico is open for business.
Do you support the DREAM Act? Why or why not?
This is a federal issue that should be addressed by Congress, which has thus far failed miserably at securing our borders. Our state government has only exacerbated a difficult situation with the granting of driver’s licenses to illegal immigrants and perpetuating sanctuary policies. We must have a federal solution to the issues surrounding border security and illegal immigration that are supported by sound policies in our border states.
What, if any, immigration legislation would you propose to secure our borders?
As the Dona Ana County District Attorney, I have had a firsthand look at the realities of border security. My office prosecutes over 600 cases related to border issues every year and works closely with law enforcement to fight border-related crime. We must reverse the practice of issuing drivers licenses to illegal immigrants, which has resulted in our state being a sanctuary for those who wish to circumvent the legal immigration process. As governor, I will make it a priority to secure our border and support the prosecution of those who violate our criminal laws.
Do you support the current regents system? Why? If not, what would you change?
As governor, I will make sure that all of my appointments are for necessary positions and involve highly qualified individuals who share my commitment to higher education. I will end the practice of handing out exempt positions as political favors that has been so prevalent under the Richardson/Denish administration.
Regents should be focused on doing what’s right for the institution and its students and faculty. With the right regents in place, we will ensure that higher education thrives in New Mexico.
Do you support the state’s medical marijuana program? Why or why not?
I do not support distributing marijuana for any purposes, which is in violation of federal law. There are many other treatments for patients in need that do not break federal law.
How would you support students and their tuition struggles?
First, I would advocate for a tuition freeze that holds tuition for each student at what they paid their first year. This would ensure that tuition does not increase for students halfway through their four-year academic careers and will allow them to plan accordingly. In addition, I also propose a state income tax credit for tuition and other higher education expenses.
Furthermore, we must use technology, such as electronic literature, to offer more choices that will fight rising textbook costs. Finally, we should also ensure that our colleges and universities are operating efficiently, so that taxpayer funds and tuition money is being spent as effectively as possible. Higher education is one of the most important investments we can make, and we must ensure we are maximizing our returns.
by Ruben Hamming-Green *
How will you select the University’s regents?
Diane Denish: My philosophy with any appointment is to pick the most qualified, not the most connected. I would want any regent I appoint to have strong knowledge of the University and a deep personal connection to it. I would also want regents who are focused on the academic and research missions of the school. I believe the key to New Mexico’s future economic success is intimately tied to innovative academic programming and producing spin-off companies incubated at our universities and graduates who are prepared to lead those companies.
What would you do to keep students in New Mexico after graduating from college?
I have always said one of our state’s best exports is our smart young people. I want to build a New Mexico where our bright college graduates can find opportunity and put down roots here. I have proposed a detail high-tech and renewable energy jobs plan at www.DianeDenish.com, which includes several initiatives to jumpstart our economy and create high-wage jobs. These include:
Creating a high-tech development corporation charged with helping high-tech startups incubated at our schools and national labs find the investment and support they need to be successful, targeting state investment money in a clean energy investment pool, and strengthening the connections between New Mexico’s schools and large employers.
What actions would you take to lower the high school dropout rate?
I have proposed a plan to redesign high school to help engage and challenge our students just as they might be thinking of dropping out. My plan calls for more specialized, hands-on, career-focused learning, so students can see the connections between learning and the careers beyond school.
My plan calls for more college prep and dual credit, more vocational options for students who might not be interested in college, and establishing strong connections with outside employers to create a more robust system of high-school internships. The goal is to inspire and challenge young people by showing them a path beyond high school and that the high-school diploma is the first step on a journey to a fulfilling career.
What is your stance on medical marijuana?
I support medical marijuana. No one with a chronically painful or terminal illness should be denied a treatment option that has been clinically proven to reduce pain and suffering.
Do you support developing clean and renewable energy programs in New Mexico? What would you do to make that happen?
I have outlined a detailed proposal to encourage renewable energy production and create clean energy jobs. Here it is:
Create a state clean energy investment pool: By linking a portion of severance-tax revenue to incentives and programs for growing the clean-energy economy, we can target state capital to renewable-energy projects and ultimately toward growing new green jobs in New Mexico.
Develop a clear-cut plan for moving New Mexico clean energy technology forward: As governor, I will appoint a statewide team of private and public sector experts to develop a roadmap for making New Mexico the leader in clean technology development. This will include planning specific steps we must take over the next decade to establish our leadership and what return we should expect on our investment.
Expand tax credits for clean technology companies: Create a new tax credit for equity investments in New Mexico clean-tech companies. Increase the Industry Research and Development Tax Credit to 10 percent for clean technology businesses and offer favorable tax treatment to startup founders to encourage them to stay in New Mexico and invest again.
Make State Energy Bills Publicly Available: Taxpayers should know what the state is spending on electric bills. The state should develop a public and easy-to-read monitor that shows state energy consumption in buildings and vehicles from month to month. This could be
followed up with setting energy-savings goals for each building (or) department. This information can be placed on the Sunshine Portal.
Energy & Transportation: Make New Mexico the leader in natural gas and electric vehicle transportation. State government can help New Mexicans be early adopters by developing both natural gas and electric vehicle charging infrastructure. This does not take a major infrastructure development and the transmission lines for both are largely already in place.