Republican Candidate for House District 43 Lisa Shin speaks at Saturday’s candidates forum at the American Legion. Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com
BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Republican candidate for House District 43 Lisa Shin said at Saturday’s American Legion candidates forum that one of her concerns about state legislators and Los Alamos County councilors approach to Los Alamos National Laboratory is their view that the Lab function is revenue.
“The thing that I want everyone to remember is that our National Laboratory does not serve our island of privilege. It serves the national interest and I think we have gotten away from that focus and I think we’re saying, ‘Wow, we need to get some revenues, and we need to fund our extravagant projects and our big buildings’. I think we’ve lost focus and gone overboard in that. Obviously, our community has benefited greatly from our GRT revenues,” Shin said.
She said a possible change in the Lab contract should have been anticipated.
“My perspective is that we should have been a little more fiscally responsible and should have lived within our means so that if the contract changed we would have still been in a strong financial situation. I think what’s happened is that was not done and we went overboard with our expenditures and our spending and now we have this huge budget and now we’re going to lose the LANL GRTs and what are we going to do now,” Shin said.
“It’s an existential threat is what I heard Councilor (David) Izraelevitz say,” she continued.
“”I also heard another councilor say that Triad has a moral obligation to continue paying for our lavish projects and our island of privilege. That is not the right approach because Triad actually has a moral obligation to the American taxpayer. They expect the Lab to accomplish its national security mission and they expect that we have the highest and best use of their tax dollars we want a well-run and well-managed Lab,” Shin said.
“My perspective on where we’ve gone and where we should be going is to be a little bit more focused on the Lab’s scientific mission and what it’s about and that it has global implications. It’s about our national security. It’s a national issue. It’s not about our island of privilege and that we need to have this lavish lifestyle ,” she said. “I just think we’ve really gone overboard like that. I think that, yes, we can support an excellent quality of life here – we already enjoy that. We have world-class education here, We’re a safe community.”
Shin asked the audience to consider how the Department of Energy has funded Los Alamos schools.
“We get $8 million a year for our schools here. DOE has always taken care of us. It’s always ensured that we have a very strong fire and police department. We owe it to the American taxpayers to start scaling back on our lifestyle here and I just don’t think we need a splashpad. I don’t think we need an expanded kiddy pool. I don’t think that’s really what we should be focusing on,” she said.
Shin said her district is outside Los Alamos also, that she has been to Cuba, Pena Blanca and Jemez Springs.
“The needs are so enormous there. It’s amazing to me that we’re focused on GRT revenues for a splash pad or a pool when Cuba is suffering from poverty and poor education and drug abuse. I think we need to get back on track and truly understand that we need to grow our scientific, engineering and technology base and that should be our focus. What can we do at the legislature to ensure that our National Laboratory can expand its workforce and expand its infrastructure and accomplish its unique national security mission?” she said.
“We all read that Triad agreed to pay the taxes so if they’re doing something like that voluntarily and they’re giving back to the community. I believe that for this year, for now they have agreed to pay (GRT) but I don’t know what it looks like later, next year, but they have agreed to pay it,” she said. “My understanding is that the impact will not be as severe as we think because the subcontractors will still be subject to the GRTs and the fact that we’re seeing a boom in job creation….I think it’s going to be a little bit offset. We’ll lose GRTs from the Lab but then (we’ll have) GRTs from the community and from more employment.” she said.