ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – There always seems to be a teacher shortage, and it’s even more pronounced in the field of special education. Now, a state lawmaker wants to tackle the problem by bumping up their pay, but criticism of the idea is coming from an unlikely source.

State Senator Michael Padilla said recruiting teachers here in New Mexico is tough work.

“New Mexico has an incredible teacher shortage right now,” Sen. Padilla said.

Even more difficult is filling the spots of special education teachers. At APS alone, those positions account for more than 60% of the current teacher openings.

“It has become even harder to recruit those special needs teachers,” Sen. Padilla said.

In response, Sen. Padilla is proposing a 15% raise for special education teachers across the board.

“This is going to add that extra incentive to make them want to stay in that role,” Sen. Padilla said.

He believes special education teachers have more responsibilities, so they should be compensated more.

“If a teacher decides to take on that extra responsibility of leading a group of children that have special needs, then the likelihood is, the teachers have to have special certifications like CPR or any number of things,” Padilla said.

“People will feel this is divisive because one person is valued over another,” Ellen Bernstein said.

Bernstein with the Albuquerque Teachers Federation said other teachers may think the pay bump is unfair.

“Everyone in a school works with the special education kids,” Bernstein said.

However, Sen. Padilla said as the bill is written now, any teacher who has a special education child in their class in a given year would be eligible for the raise. If that same teacher doesn’t have any special education students the following year, the raise would be dropped.

Padilla said the bill is a work in progress, and he hopes to get as much feedback as possible.

The legislative session starts on January 21.