SANTA FE (KRQE) - High-profile payoffs to departing public employees have angered some New Mexicans to the point that one lawmaker is trying to turn those golden parachutes into bronze.
State Rep. Bill Rehm isn't trying to ban the big buyouts bestowed on coaches and university presidents get in recent years, but he is looking to put a cap on it.
When former University of New Mexico football Head Coach Mike Locksley was fired in 2011 , he pocketed $750,000 to go away.
Just three months ago, New Mexico State University President Barbara Couture got more than $450,000 plus another $100,000 in salary even though she was no longer working for the university.
"The one that's humorous is Rocky Long." Rehm says referring to Locksley's predecessor at UNM. "We paid him to go over to California and come back the next year and beat our football team."
But Rehm doesn't think the idea of a golden parachute is so funny. He's tried twice to block the benefit in some cases and in a shift this legislative session is pushing to limit the payouts.
"It cannot exceed one year's salary, or if it's a high salary, more than the governor's salary for the previous year," Rehm says.
Gov. Susana Martinez currently makes $110,000 a year, meaning neither Locksley nor Couture's buyouts would've been valid under Rehm's bill.
Opponents have said buyouts are necessary to attract top talent and get rid of underperforming employees.
"I totally disagree with that," Rehm says. "If you're going to pay $750,000 to a million dollars to an individual, I think you can find an at-will employee who will work for that amount of money."
Both of Rehm's previous attempts at reforming public employee golden parachutes were killed in the same committee: House Judiciary.
This year's attempt has to go through that same committee.
A UNM athletics spokesperson said Athletic Director Paul Krebs is out of town and could not comment.
The bill would only apply to employment contracts signed or renewed starting this July.
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