Deadlock stalls Skandera confirmation

ALBUQUERQUE (KRQE) – For almost three years, education secretary appointee Hanna Skandera’s confirmation has been stuck in the senate without a vote.

That could’ve changed Monday.

Skandera is used to being left in limbo by the state senate; she has been serving as education secretary without a confirmation vote for three years.

A senate panel voted Monday at a much anticipated hearing, but nothing has changed.

Democrats have criticized Skandera for education reforms and an increased emphasis on testing they say is bad for students and teachers alike. Republicans have backed her, saying change is needed to boost the state’s low education rankings.

After hearing hours of testimony on Skandera a year ago, the Senate Rules Committee kept things short Monday.

A vote to move her confirmation to the full senate deadlocked five to five with democrat Clemente Sanchez joining the committee’s four republicans. That means in all likelihood, Skandera’s confirmation stays stuck there until the session ends Thursday.

After the vote, Skandera said lawmakers have made a spectacle of this for too long.

”I can tell you when I’m out on the national level this and the circus that it’s been comes up. I’d rather talk about our kids than a circus in our legislature,” Skandera said.

Whether or not Skandera is confirmed to the job is more about job title than anything. Even if the full senate voted not to confirm her, she could effectively still run the department.

The full senate could soon vote on a constitutional amendment to get rid of education secretary as an appointed position. That job would be replaced by an state education superintendent appointed by an elected board, the system New Mexico had before voters got rid of it in 2003.

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