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Friday, January 11, 2013 - 00:46
Santa Fe, NM — A raise for everyone in the state: that was lawmakers plan for the New Mexico budget this year, but Governor Martinez has a different idea. She wants education to be at the top of the agenda.
The governor announced her budget proposal today, including more than $100 million in new public education funding.
She also wants to put aside $11 million for pay raises for the state's most effective teachers, evaluated by their students' improvement.
The governor did not propose any kind of raises, despite the Legislative Finance Committee's recommendation Wednesday to give across-the-board 1 percent raises to state workers.
The dilemma is $200 million extra will be available this budget cycle. Leaving lawmakers with the task of spending the extra cash.
The governor says now is not the time for a raise.
"At a time when New Mexico families are still struggling across the board, pay increases for government employees is not something I can include in my budget," Martinez said.
The governor's position upset union leaders who point to the fact state employees haven't received a raise since 2008.
"Now that we have $300 million surplus, to say there's no room for even one-percent raise is a slap in the face to all state employees," said Carter Bundy, legislative director of AFSCME in New Mexico.
The governor's other budget recommendations include:
$28 million in new funding for Medicaid services and program improvements,
$8.5 million for public safety,
$4.75 million investment in the Job Training Incentive Program, which encourages hiring by paying part of a new worker's salary during training.
LFC chairman Sen. John Arthur Smith says he believes the legislature and the governor can find some sort of compromise on state pay raises.
The 60 day legislative session starts next week.