Q&A: Senate District 39 Susan Vescovo

  • NAME: Susan K. Vescovo
  • POLITICAL PARTY: Republican
  • OCCUPATION: Retired
  • RELEVANT EXPERIENCE: I have lived in New Mexico the majority of my life, and have been a small business owner in our state for four decades. I’m a former educator, farmer a current horse owner, breeder and mental health advocate. I am Past President of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) I was appointed to the Governors Behavioral Health Planning Council (Chairman Adult Mental Health) appointed to the Governors Mental Health Planning Council (Member). Appointed to the New Mexico State Racing Commission.
  • EDUCATION: 1971-72 University of Southern California, International University, Mexico City, Mexico
  • 1972-79 St. Edwards University, Austin, Texas graduated cum laude. B.A. English, Art and Secondary Education Teacher Certification
  • 1981-82 Austin Community College, completed Medical School Requirements
  • 2017 Hypnotherapy Academy of America, Albuquerque, N.M. Certified Medical Support, Clinical Hypnotherapist
  • CAMPAIGN WEBSITE: www.vescovo4nm.com

1. What steps should the Legislature take to ensure New Mexico has a balanced budget amid falling oil prices and an economic downturn prompted by the coronavirus outbreak? 

The state must live within their means. We should not have created expensive new programs just because oil and gas were at record highs. We must go back and streamline new and non-effective programs rather than spend precious reserves.

2. What more, if anything, should the Legislature do to address a court ruling that found New Mexico is failing to provide a sufficient education to all students?

We must have accountability in education. We rank among the highest on dollars spent, yet we continue to fail on outcomes. We must use data to accomplish needed goals. Instead of free college for all we need to concentrate on tutoring for all to help at risk students achieve academic proficiency

3. What changes, if any, should New Mexico make to its gross receipts tax code?

I support lowering New Mexico’s Gross Receipts Tax while narrowing exemptions.

4. Do you support or oppose legalizing recreational marijuana use in New Mexico and taxing its sales?

Oppose. I do not believe revenues from legalization of recreational marijuana will offset the cost of hospitalizations and the increased homelessness that will result. Recent studies state cannabis is likely to increase the risk of schizophrenia and other psychoses. In California retail marijuana has struggled to compete with illicit sales.

5. In recent years, New Mexico has steadily increased spending on early childhood programs, such as home visiting, prekindergarten and child care assistance, and created a new early childhood trust fund. Do you support or oppose a constitutional amendment that would withdraw more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to increase funding for early childhood services?

Oppose. We do not have the money to increase early childhood program funding. The Permanent Fund is New Mexico’s nest egg and must be protected.

6. Do you support or oppose opening the state’s primary elections to voters who aren’t affiliated with either major political party?

Support. Many residents are registered Independents; they should have the right to vote.

7. Do you support or oppose repealing a long-dormant 1969 state law that outlaws abortion, except in limited circumstances?

I feel we should support and value life. I would only support early termination of pregnancy, in extreme cases where there is reported rape, incest or the mother’s life is at risk.

8. Would you support a merit-based evaluation system to determine how the state spends its capital outlay funding?

Should each legislator be required to disclose which projects he or she funded? Yes, we need disclosure. I fear a merit-based system would hurt our rural areas, as they do not have the tax base to support significant projects. Infrastructure in rural New Mexico is critical to our survival. A merit-based system may only support large cities.

9. Do you support or oppose requiring lobbyists to disclose which bills they advocate for or against?

Public information on a lobbyist, and whom they represent is already available through our Secretary of State website. Lobbyists position often change with additional amendments. It would be impossible to track this process.

10. New Mexico is highly reliant on the oil and natural gas industries to generate revenue to fund state programs, as evidenced by recent oil boom and bust cycles. What are the things you would do to diversify the state’s economy and revenue base?

We need be able to compete with neighboring states and be more business friendly. Horse racing and their casinos create huge revenues for our state, support agriculture and the trickle down from this industry is widespread. Growing businesses and employing people adds to our tax base.

11. Do you support or oppose updating the current prohibition in the law on assisted suicide in order to allow aid-in-dying under certain medical circumstances?

Oppose. An Advanced Directive offers everyone the ability to withhold or withdraw life sustaining treatment. Hospice is able to provide care and support for the terminally ill while palliative care also plays an important part.

12. Would you support or oppose a moratorium on fracking? And should the state impose additional renewable energy mandates as a way to address climate change concerns?

Oppose a moratorium on fracking, as it is critical to oil and gas production. Many in our state take advantage of subsidies for solar etc. I support the use of renewable energy, but New Mexico needs to be rational and explore all technologies. Ratepayers have little voice; we need to keep energy cost affordable

13. What steps should the Legislature take to address crime and improve public safety?

I believe drugs and unaddressed mental illness play a huge part in crime. We must work with law enforcement, hospitals, Border Patrol/ICE and other state and federal agencies to curtail our crime problem. Drug traffickers must be severely penalized.

14. Do you support or oppose the practice of legislative budget-writing committees holding closed-door meetings during the crafting of state spending bills?

Oppose. We need transparency.

Personal background

1. Have you or your business, if you are a business owner, ever been the subject of any state or federal tax liens? No

2. Have you ever been involved in a personal or business bankruptcy proceeding? No

3. Have you ever been arrested for, charged with, or convicted of drunken driving, any misdemeanor or any felony in New Mexico or any other state? If so, explain. No. I have received traffic violations