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Republican Gov. Susana Martinez's administration will receive money to establish a merit pay system for teachers under a proposed state budget approved by the House.
Lawmakers voted 53-16 on Thursday for the plan to allocate nearly $5.9 billion next year for government programs and public education.
The budget, which goes to the Senate, will increase spending by $239 million or about 4 percent.
About $35 million is provided for 1 percent pay raises for state workers and educators and 3 percent for state police. It will be the first across-the-board salary increase for public employees since 2008.
Several Democrats objected to the budget because it provides $3 million to establish a merit pay system to reward high-performing teachers. Martinez had requested $11 million.
Rep. Stephanie Garcia Richard (D-Los Alamos, Santa Fe, Sandoval and Rio Arriba) voted against the appropriations bill.
She released the following statement.
“Today I was asked to make a decision that weighed heavily on my heart. For over a decade, I have fought along the side of my fellow educators to protect our schools and educate our children. I have worked tirelessly with House District 43 School Districts and teachers to ensure the legislation we pass positively impacts schools across New Mexico,” Garcia Richard said.
“Our schools are in crisis and we have the opportunity to help alleviate some of the burden this legislative session. I believe we have the duty to protect every child equally and value the teachers who work tirelessly to ensure every student has the opportunity they so deserve.
“While House Bill 2 is a valiant example of what we can do when both sides come together in the Legislature, the damaging effects it will have on our schools are just too grave to ignore. House Bill 2 takes New Mexico backwards by creating a merit pay system for teachers as well as, causes the unequal distribution of resources throughout New Mexico public schools.
“I do believe there were major advancements made by the Legislature to expand programs and protect New Mexico in House Bill 2, but because of the negative consequences it will have on our schools I have decided to vote against the 2013 Appropriations Bill. As this bill moves to the Senate I look forward to working with all members to improve the bill’s impacts on our communities. “
See more on the House Budget in Friday’s Los Alamos Monitor.