SANTA FE (KRQE) - The House decided Wednesday to call the governor's bluff and voted 37-33 to approve the budget and send it to her desk.
But Gov. Susana Martinez says she'll still veto the $5.9 billion proposal to fund state government next fiscal year setting up a standoff between lawmakers and the administration.
The fight centers around amendments the Senate made to a budget that had bipartisan support in the House.
Among those, a $3 million proposal from Martinez for merit pay for high-performing teachers was axed and replaced with $2 million to attract quality teachers to low-performing schools.
The amended bill passed the Senate unanimously Tuesday but quickly drew the governor's ire.
Democrats say it's a balanced, solid budget bill. The proposal includes a nearly $250 million increase in spending including a more than a 4 percent boost to education. State workers and teachers would get a 1 percent pay raise as well.
They say the governor is nitpicking.
"We can propose and [the governor] can dispose, but on the education side there's a $2.57 billion budget, and she doesn't like $3 million of it," said Senate Finance Chair John Arthur Smith, D-Deming.
But Martinez says that's not the only thing she doesn't like about the Senate's changes to the budget. Also axed was up to $2 million that could've gone to the Reads-to-Lead program, a K-3 reading initiative.
And it wasn't just education that was a sticking point for the administration.
"They didn't fund (the Local Economic Development Act) in order to bring companies to New Mexico, JTIP, which is job training, our economic development plan has also been cut drastically," Martinez said. "So it is over all the budget, and they voted today not to sit down and negotiate on that budget."
The governor has up to 23 days to veto the budget but says she'll veto it as soon as possible in the hopes of reaching a compromise before the 60-day session ends Saturday at noon.
If no deal can be worked out, the state wouldn't have a budget for the upcoming fiscal year, and lawmakers would have to return to Santa Fe sometime before July for a special session.
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