Dueling budget recommendations for NM’s upcoming legislative session
Print This Post
By Rob Nikolewski │ New Mexico Watchdog
SANTA FE – There are some differences in the respective budget proposals turned in by the administration of and the , with each side taking a couple shots at the other, but no lines have been drawn in the sand — at least not yet.
Coming on the heels of the LFC budget recommendations made last week, Gov. Martinez and her staff came out with their own plan on Monday.
“These are problems we have to solve now,” Martinez said at a news conference at Acequia Madre Public School in Santa Fe. “Otherwise, we’re going to stay stagnant or we’re not going to continue with positive growth. I believe we can come to an agreement. We have good relationships with each other.”
“I’m willing to work with the administration,” LFC chairman and , said, adding, “If we don’t work together, if we don’t hang to together, we’ll hang separately.”
It’s often difficult to line up the LFC recommendations with those of the Governor’s Office but here’s how they each stack up on some specific issues:
Varela criticized the Martinez budget for not doing enough to help the state’s lagging economy and said the LFC recommendations calling for 1.5 percent cost of living raises for all state employees would boost the state’s finances.
“Our plan would turn New Mexico around from the spiraling effect that we’ve had for the last decade,” Varela said after Monday’s news conference. “There seems to be a reluctance (from Martinez) in terms of across the board salary increases on the part of public employees, to reward them for performance.”
For her part, Martinez criticized the LFC budget calling for $40 million to schools and state agencies to be used at their own discretion and said the LFC recommendations for education reforms are “virtually non-existent.”
However, the largest segment of the budget in both proposals goes to education.
Some 44 percent of the governor’s budget and 56 percent of all new spending go to education.
The LFC budget calls for $2.7 billion in FY 2015 for public schools, a 5.6 percent increase.
Update: Rather than seeing pay increases for all state employees, the Martinez budget plan would boost pay for about one-third of public workers and new teachers would get higher pay.
“Small, across the board increases do nothing to reform our broken salary compensation system,” Martinez said. “They just shift the broken system upward a little bit.”
Click to get more details on the LFC budget and for more on the governor’s recommendations.
The 30-day legislative session starts Jan. 21 at the Roundhouse.
“We need to create good-paying jobs,” Varela said.
“As professionals, we know what we have said to those that elect us and what promises we’ve made,” Martinez said. “We just have to keep them.”
On another topic, Martinez said she had no plans to try to reverse the . “It’s the law of the land and the court has spoken,” she said.
Contact Rob Nikolewski at and follow him on Twitter @robnikolewski