New Mexico Senate backs veto override on teacher sick leave

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP/KRQE) – The New Mexico Senate has voted to override a veto by Gov. Susana Martinez of a bill that would allow teachers to take more than three days of annual sick leave without being penalized on performance evaluations.

Republican Sen. Craig Brandt of Rio Rancho led the unusual override attempt Tuesday against the GOP governor. The Senate backed the override in a 34-7 vote that fulfilled a two-thirds supermajority requirement.

Including Sen. Brandt, eight Republicans voted for the override, while seven did not. It’s unclear why six of those seven voted against the bill this time around, despite voting for it initially. However, last week Senator and Minority Leader Stuart Ingle, R-Clovis, told KRQE News 13 that he would vote “no” to the override because he respects the governor’s decision.

Sen. Brandt said it was a unique situation to go against the governor since they are from the same party, but that he knew it was best for the sake of students and teachers across our state.

He initiated the process to override the governor on Friday, but wanted to give her the chance to compromise with him. After an agreement wasn’t reached, he kept good on his promise to move forward with the override vote Tuesday.

“I don’t know that I’ve ever felt this kind of pressure. It’s hard to do, but it’s the right thing to do and at some point we have to stand up for what is right and not what is party,” he said.

In order for the veto override to be successful, however, the House must also initiate this process and take a vote. A representative has yet to make that commitment aloud. Sen. Brandt says he is encouraging his colleagues in the House to take the plunge.

House Republicans have made it clear that if a vote were to take place, though, they will vote as a group not to override the veto, which would inhibit that necessary two-thirds majority.

Gov. Martinez says the bill threatened to reverse recent reductions in teacher absentee rates and to increase the use of substitutes in classrooms. Sen. Brandt says teachers should not be forced to work while sick and that local school boards should set sick-leave policy.

The last successful veto override was in 2002.

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