SANTA FE (KRQE) - After years of budget cuts, lawmakers said Wednesday that it is time every state employee got a raise, even if it's not very big. But Thursday, Governor Susana Martinez said something else.
Governor Martinez put education at the top while announcing her budget recommendations at a Santa Fe elementary school, including more than $100 million in new public education funding.
What was missing was the Legislative Finance Committee's recommendation for across-the-board raises for state workers.
With more than $200 million in extra money this budget cycle, the LFC proposed a one-percent increase.
The governor says now is not the time.
"At a time when New Mexico families are still struggling across the board, pay increases for government employees is not something I can include in my budget," Martinez said.
The governor's position upset union leaders who point to the fact state employees haven't received a raise since 2008.
"Now that we have $300 million surplus, to say there's no room for even one-percent raise is a slap in the face to all state employees," said Carter Bundy, legislative director of AFSCME in New Mexico.
The governor says the state's extra money will allow the state to pay 1.5 percent more into employee pensions.
She says that counts for a lot.
"Our responsible state spending will result in 1.5 percent bump in take home pay for over 22,000 New Mexicans," Martinez said.
The governor also budgeted about $11 million for pay raises for the state's most effective teachers, evaluated by their students' improvement.
Union leaders say it's not enough.
"We will work with our friends in the legislature and keep the lines of communication open with the governor to make sure she understands there have been pay cuts and hopefully we can get small raise this year," Bundy said.
The governor's other budget recommendations include:
- $28 million in new funding for Medicaid services and program improvements,
- $8.5 million for public safety,
- $4.75 million investment in the Job Training Incentive Program, which encourages hiring by paying part of a new worker's salary during training.
LFC chairman Sen. John Arthur Smith says he believes the legislature and the governor can find some sort of compromise on state pay raises.
The 60 day legislative session starts next week.
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