It’s a good time to work closely with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham. Most of her department heads are getting a raise most people could only dream of.

“It’s too steep,” said Rep. Bill Rehm, a Republican in Albuquerque.

Lujan Grisham is increasing the 24 staff members pay from $128,000 to $150,000, which equals a whopping 17% increase.

“What I think is out of proportion is the increase of 4% for the normal, everyday worker versus the 17% for their boss,” said Rehm.

The raise will cost taxpayers an extra $550,000 a year, which the governor says is money well spent.

“$150,000 seemed like a round number that was appropriate, warranted and earned,” said Tripp Stelnicki, a spokesperson for the Governor’s office.

Stelnicki says the amount makes them competitive not only with the private sector, but with other government jobs, like the Santa Fe County Manager who makes roughly $200,000 a year.

“We want the best, we feel like we have the best and we want the best to stay,” said Stelnicki.

Stelnicki says having the right people leading the state benefits everyone.

“New Mexicans deserve absolutely nothing less than the best,” said Stelnicki,

However, Rep. Rehm believes the money should not be going toward salaries. 

“There are infrastructure needs we should be taking care of rather than seeing how many people we can hire and what we should pay each of them,” said Rehm.

The Governor’s office also points out Former Governor Bill Richardson paid some of his department heads more than $170,000. Those salaries were cut when Susana Martinez took office at the start of the recession.