Former New Mexico governor and senatorial candidate Gary Johnson introduces himself to supporters Friday evening at Los Alamos Makers on Orange Street during a campaign swing through Los Alamos. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
State Libertarian Party chair and candidate for Los Alamos County Sheriff Chris Luchini, right, speaks with Gov. Gary Johnson. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson who is facing Democratic incumbent Martin Heinrich and Republican Mick Rich in the race for U.S. Senate met Friday evening with local supporters in an informal setting at Los Alamos Makers on Orange Street.
Johnson was asked about his view of the role of Los Alamos National Laboratory and the nuclear deterrent.
“I don’t think I could make this claim if I was running in any other state, but when I was governor there was the Base Realignment and Closure Commission and in 1996 New Mexico was slated for base closures. I headed up the BRAC Commission and the end result was that we gained military assets,” he said. “Things don’t rust in New Mexico. We’ve got all sorts of ground space for military maneuver on the ground. We have the most restricted airspace and the only supersonic corridor in the lower 48 states.”
Johnson said that’s what came out of the BRAC Commission.
“In an environment where I am going to advocate cutting the military by 23 percent, whenever you cut anything, then you look to spend the assets that you spend most efficiently. When it comes to the military, I’m going to argue that that’s dollars best spent in New Mexico for all the reasons I just stated,” he said.
Johnson said he thinks it’s the same case for the National Laboratories
“We’re spending money on new infrastructure in other parts of the country when the infrastructure exists here so why spend it anywhere else other than New Mexico when it comes to the Labs,” he said.
He used the example of the manufacture of plutonium pits being split up between Los Alamos and elsewhere instead of doing it all at Los Alamos.
“If in fact I am elected and I am the swing vote, that’s going to be huge influence for New Mexico,” Johnson said, adding that the most efficient expenditure would be at the Labs here in New Mexico.
Asked if he supports the payment of gross receipts by Los Alamos and Sandia National Laboratories to support the state and Los Alamos County, Johnson said “no”.
“Having run for president twice, I know what works and doesn’t work. I visited all 50 states and the low tax and low regulatory environment is where all the economic activity is. New Mexico has very high gross receipts tax for services, especially out of state – it’s a killer,” he said. “I advocated adjusting those as governor. At a federal level I would have no power over that other than to vocally state what I just said.”
Johnson said he thinks the potential loss of GRT income to the state and Los Alamos County gets made up with economic activity.
“It’s added revenue, added income, as opposed to gross receipts that ultimately comes out as income tax to New Mexico and we have a very high income tax rate in New Mexico,” he said.
Johnson said the biggest thing needed for New Mexico from the federal government is to balance the federal budget.
“A trillion dollar deficit is not sustainable. If borrowing a billion dollars a year adding to a trillion dollar debt was the key to success then Zimbabwe would be the center of the world followed by Venezuela,” he said.