Editor’s Note: The Clovis News-Journal invited candidates for the New Mexico House of Representatives District 63 seat to answer the following questions. Candidates were limited to 300-word answers.
Name: Matt Rush
Running for: House of Representatives District 63
Party affiliation: Republican.
Elected offices held: American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, Board of Directors; President, Roosevelt County Farm & Livestock Bureau; Past Chairman, Roosevelt County Republican Party.
What type of economic development suits eastern New Mexico best, and how could you, as a legislator, facilitate it?
Small business and agriculture are not only the backbone of eastern New Mexico’s economy they are the heart and soul of her. We must protect both. Agriculture is experiencing record high commodity prices. However, we are also experiencing triple digit increases in the cost of fuel, seeds, feed, fertilizer and supplies. On top of that agriculture has had to deal with liberal, radical, environmental regulations and restrictions coming out of Santa Fe. For example, if you wanted to build a new dairy here in New Mexico it would cost you an additional $1.5 million in fees just to get started versus building one right across the state line.
Ask anyone who owns a business here if it is increasingly difficult to survive. Ask them if Santa Fe is known for passing laws and regulations that are “business friendly.” Our state has so much red tape that the red tape is starting to blush! Santa Fe has been trying to regulate us out of business and it is time that we said, “ENOUGH!” As a legislator I will fight to stop the beating that business and industry in this state have been taking.
How familiar are you with the Ute Water Project? What can the state Legislature do to move the project along?
I am very familiar with the Ute Water Project. Water has been and will increasingly become more and more important to eastern New Mexico. It is absolutely essential that we protect, explore and develop all sources of water available to us. The state Legislature has been very supportive of the Ute Water Project and must continue to be. In recent weeks we have been seeing a great deal of movement with the project out of Washington, D.C. That will be the largest hurdle to cross and is the ultimate determining factor to the projects success.
What do you propose doing to help New Mexico schools? Is the current funding formula working?
I believe that the education of our children is paramount in our society today. We have to place a greater emphasis on the basic skills of reading, writing, math, and science. It is also time that we let our teachers teach again and not administrate. The amount of governmental paper work 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 shouldn’t end when they go home at the end of the day; parental involvement is critical to quality education.
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, primarily, 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.
Gov. Richardson has been pretty adamant about a health care plan, and has gone so far as to threaten a special session. How can health care be improved in the state?
Universal health care 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 health care for those who cannot afford their basic needs, but there also needs to be incentives to those who purchase their own health care 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. We will always have patients out here but we are already experiencing the lack of providers.
Regarding state infrastructure, what areas need the most improvement or repairs, and how can the state pay for such needs?
We are on the verge, if not already in, an infrastructure crisis in this state with the conditions of our local roads. The majority of our highways are deplorable, especially the ancillary roads. New construction that doesn’t last, roads without shoulders and a habit of applying band-aids to fix the problem must come to an end. If you travel the roads in eastern New Mexico, rural or through town, it’s evident that serious changes must be made if we are to maintain what current infrastructure we might have. The state highway department budget has been slashed in recent years yet the cost of road materials and building supplies have tripled and quadrupled. Instead of spending hundreds of millions of dollars on a train for the few, we should be investing in the roads for the many. I am committed to curbing out of control spending in Santa Fe. If we stop the wasteful spending we can pay for things like maintaining our infrastructure; because raising taxes is not an option.
What is something you felt the Legislature has not adequately handled, and how would you approach it?
I want to be an advocate for the New Mexico family. With the current economic trouble we find ourselves in, we have less money to live off of. I am committed to standing up for the families in eastern New Mexico by cutting taxes, defending small business and pledging my unwavering support of our traditional family values.
— Compiled by CNJ Staff Writer Kevin Wilson