District 63 candidates respond to questions

Freedom New Mexico

Editor’s note: The Clovis News Journal asked District 63 state representative candidates to answer the following questions in 200 words or less.
The answers were edited for grammar and style. The general election is Nov. 4.

Democrat

Jose Campos II

Age: 47

Occupation: Self employed

Elected offices held: Current District 63 representative

• What is your stance on a proposed funding formula backed by state education organizations?

New Mexico’s educational funding formula has been recognized as an “equalized” formula, meaning that all funds have been received and distributed to districts. Poorer districts and the varying costs according to region are taken into account in determining fund distributions.
The new $350 million, three-year funding formula includes expansion of school days from 180 to 185. There are also requirements for continuing education for teachers, new special education regulations aligned with federal laws, and an implementation task force.
Overall, this funding formula benefits schools in District 63 including the Clovis, Portales, Floyd, Melrose and Fort Sumner school districts.

• What is your stance on a state-funded universal healthcare package proposed by Gov. Bill Richardson? What is your alternative?

Approximately 400,000 New Mexicans are currently uninsured. These people are the working poor and middle class who do not have insurance through their jobs and do not qualify for Medicaid or Medicare. They are the backbone of our communities and economies and somehow we must help them find a way to make healthcare coverage available and affordable.
The governor’s proposal was extensive and included broader insurance pools, employer partnerships and lack of quality care eventually results in higher health costs. We must improve access to primary care and preventative care, and encourage people to stay healthy, exercise, eat well and get early treatment at an affordable cost.
New Mexico is the second poorest state in the nation and if the wealthiest states cannot solve this issue easily, neither can we. But we must strive for new affordable and common sense solutions.

• How would you vote on legislation regarding domestic partnership addressing same-sex couples?

The domestic partner bill allows that couples living together shall be subject to the same legal obligations and responsibilities and shall be entitled to the same protections and benefits as are afforded by the laws of the state to married couples, former spouses, widows or widowers.
These rights include health insurance benefits, hospital visitations, end-of-life decision-making authority, access to deceased partners’ pensions, community property, child support and custody and visitation rights.
This is a matter of extending basic rights to couples, young and old, who choose to postpone marriage for whatever reason. Many young couples feel they cannot afford to marry. Many older couples in this district are afraid of losing their benefits or their deceased spouses’ pensions. Yet, they are committed to each other and want to share their current benefits, rights and responsibilities. This gives them the right to do so.

• Should legislative conference committee meetings be open to the public?

Conference committee meetings are similar to “executive sessions” on public agendas and are usually set up when a particular piece of legislation is hung up with differences between the House, the Senate or the governor. Their only purpose is to expedite negotiations and the adoption of middle ground.
Having them held in private takes away the opportunity for grandstanding, and lets members get down to the issues at hand. Furthermore, all decisions must be reported and approved by the full bodies in a public forum.
Nevertheless, I have absolutely no problem with opening conference committee meetings to the public.

Republican

Matthew D. Rush

Age: 34

Occupation: Farming/ranching

Elected offices held: American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, Board of Directors; President, Roosevelt County Farm & Livestock Bureau; Chairman, Roosevelt County Republican Party.

• What is your stance on a proposed funding formula backed by state education organizations?
There are pieces of the current funding formula that do work. However, the issue that is crippling our local school districts are the unfunded mandates handed down from Santa Fe and Washington, D.C.
Unfunded mandates make for great speeches on campaign trails, but they cut to the heart of our schools’ funding ability. This kind of legislation must end. Control of our school systems must be taken out of the hands of bureaucrats and returned back to our communities.
It is also time that we let our teachers teach again and not administrate. The amount of governmental paperwork that our teachers are responsible for is shameful. I say it again, let’s let our teachers teach.
Most importantly, we must restore order and discipline back to the classroom. We must work to increase parent involvement. Our kids’ educations should not end when they go home at the end of the day, parental involvement is critical to quality education.

• What is your stance on a state-funded universal healthcare package proposed by Gov. Bill Richardson? What is your alternative?

Government run healthcare is not the answer. When it comes to eastern New Mexico we need to be talking about access. There is a major lack of access to healthcare, especially specialized healthcare, which is critical for our families in this part of the state.
It is one thing to provide healthcare for those who cannot afford their basic needs, which we already have, but there also needs to be incentives to those who purchase their own healthcare coverage, such as a tax credit, or co-pay max.
We must also work to end the frivolous lawsuits that our doctors and hospitals have to deal with.
There has to be common sense and common ground between protecting patients and protecting providers.

l How would you vote on legislation regarding domestic partnership addressing same-sex couples?

As a Christian, I strongly believe that marriage is a sacred union between one man and one woman. I would have voted against these attempts to weaken traditional marriage.

• Should legislative conference committee meetings be open to the public?

Absolutely. The greatness of our government was founded on transparency of our government. Unless it’s a security risk, every area should be open to the public. After all, it’s our government and every one of us has a right and responsibility to know what our government is doing.
If legislators want to close the doors and lock us out of our own house, then you can bet that there are things going on behind those doors that we should know about.