New faces at the legislature: Q&A with State Rep. Amber Baker

Rep. Amber Baker, a Democrat from Forsyth County. (Photo: NCGA)

Editor’s note: Policy Watch sent a questionnaire to all new state lawmakers about their plans for their first legislative session. Their unedited responses will be published as the questionnaires come in.

Name:  Amber M. Baker

District: 72nd /Forsyth  

Occupation:  Educator

Lives in:  Winston-Salem

Previous elected offices?  No

Contact information: [email protected]

What do you think will be the biggest issue at the legislature this year?  

Ongoing issues related to COVID-19 pandemic, to include but not limited to vaccinations, testing, contact tracing, education, housing and small business relief.

What’s a specific campaign promise that you’d like to deliver on?

Advocate for public education.

Do you anticipate another round of state COVID relief funding? If so, what should the amount be?

As a new member, I am still learning the on-going budgetary considerations and am still familiarizing myself with those considerations.

What groups should be prioritized for relief funding?

Vaccinations and ongoing testing remain a high concern for multiple interest groups.

The pandemic has revealed the weaknesses in support systems for people in need. This includes social services, health care, rural broadband, unemployment benefits, and more. What needs fixed most urgently and how — not just during a pandemic, but permanently?

As part of federal funding received by the state, SB36/HB42, specifically allocates funds to address rural broadband, as well as funding to the local educational agencies to address learning loss.

Do you support Medicaid expansion? Why or why not?

It is extremely important to address the concerns around the hesitiancy of moving forward on Medicaid expansion, especially given the exacerbation of healthcare related issues due to COVID-19.

Is the state’s funding for public education enough? Why or Why not? If you believe funding is insufficient, what budgetary amount would you recommend and how should the money be used?

COVID-19 has emphasized a need to address additional funding of public education in all areas. However, it is a discussion that needs to be expanded beyond taxpayer dollars being used to address the need for budgetary expansion. Serious consideration and conversations should be had with business partners for possible collaborations to increase funding public education in conjunction with using state funds.

DEQ’s budget and staffing has been deeply cut over the past 10 years, which has affected environmental protection, particularly in terms of inspections and enforcement. How should this be remedied?

As a new member, I am still learning the on-going budgetary considerations and am still familiarizing myself with those considerations.

 

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