Benny Shendo

Senate District 22

Affliation: D

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City: Jemez Pueblo

Would you vote for the creation of an Independent Ethics Commission to provide oversight of the executive and legislative branches of government in New Mexico? Yes, absolutely. The citizens of New Mexico deserve transparency and accountability in state government. An ethics commission that is separate from the legislature would have the power to investigate allegations of impropriety and help to safeguard the public trust.

What measures would you take to make New Mexico state government transparent, accessible and accountable to the public? I think that we need to archive all webcasts and to have more open meetings streamed for the public. The public should be informed on what legislators are saying in committee meetings and how they vote. While we provide the final vote information for some committees it is inaccessible for most of the public and they deserve to know what is happening in Santa Fe.

Would you give permission to the Legislative Council Service to make publicly available the final amounts you personally allocate to various capital outlay projects? Yes, absolutely. This year I am actually mailing out a list of projects that have been funded in different communities to my constituents. Legislators have a responsibility to report back the challenges and successes they’ve had to their community.

If you think reform of the capital outlay system is needed, how would you reform it? If you don't think reform is needed, give us your reasons. The organization Think New Mexico has advocated in the past few years for a merit-based system of capital outlay. In their proposal they advocate for a system similar to the tribal infrastructure fund and other funds. During my time as Secretary of Indian Affairs my team developed and passed the Tribal Infrastructure Fund (TIF), which since 2012 has put over 30 Million dollars into projects in my district alone. I believe we need to prioritize our crumbling infrastructure in the state before we invest in pet projects and I would be open to supporting a system that mirrors the TIF.

Does New Mexico need to invest more in early childhood development? If you think it does, in your opinion what is the best way to invest? If you don't think New Mexico needs to invest more, tell us why. Yes, we need to fully fund pre-K and the pre-K plus program. We also need to tap the Land Grant Permanent Fund for our most important asset, our kids. This fund grows every year because he have carefully managed its growth. A modest investment from this fund would allow us to ensure our most vulnerable school age children get the education they need to thrive.

What measures would you take to improve the state's long-term economy? We need to end wasteful spending in state government by closing tax loopholes. With increased revenue we can fully fund our education system and develop the brain trust that we need to fuel new industries. I also would like to do more with the national laboratories to partner with businesses in our state developing new energy systems. These are the types of high paying jobs that keep young talent in our state and attract new secondary business.

Would you support the legalization of cannabis for adult recreational use in New Mexico? Why or why not? I would need to see more data on the subject and how other states are proceeding. If the data shows that this can be done safely I believe the voters of the state should make the final decision. I support medical marijuana use and we need to look carefully at the longterm ramifications of legal recreational use.