RIO RANCHO, N.M. – Gov. Susana Martinez said this year’s budget spends more on education than any other in the state’s history, but it is what the budget doesn’t fund that has teachers concerned.
The governor approved the nearly $6.2 billion budget Tuesday afternoon, cutting $27 million from the budget the Legislature passed.
“I am proud our budget invests targeted dollars where we need it most—to support our teachers, to help struggling students, improve parental engagement and lift up low-performing schools and create jobs and diversity in our economy,” Gov. Martinez said.
The governor signed the budget Tuesday at Puesta del Sol Elementary School in Rio Rancho.
Spending on public schools will increase by more than $147-million.
The governor said it will provide more interventions for struggling students and schools.
While teachers are happy to see more education spending, they say much of it is going to the governor’s education reforms instead of straight to the districts, allowing them to decide how to spend it.
Gov. Martinez approved a three-percent pay raise for all teachers, but vetoed a $2,000 salary increase on top of that for the state’s more experienced teachers—only upping the minimum salary for beginning teachers from $30,000 to $32,000.
“By giving them a couple thousand dollars bump in pay, she thinks she is going to be able to get more people here, but the reality is she needs to worry about retaining the good teachers that she has,” said Stephanie Ly, president of the American Federation of Teachers New Mexico.
Democratic Sen. Jerry Ortiz y Pino said the governor is determined to wage war on educators.
The governor said she felt since all teachers were getting a three-percent pay raise, they didn’t also all need that extra bump in salary.
Martinez also vetoed pay raises for governor-appointed state workers, district attorneys and judges.
To read the Governor’s more lengthy executive message on the signing of today’s budget, please click here.