SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham opened up the legislative session Tuesday with her State of the State outlining New Mexico’s needs and how lawmakers will tackle them over the next 30 days.
Gov. Lujan Grisham was determined that lawmakers will succeed in checking off her top priorities for the state. One of those priorities is education, focusing on pre-k through 12th grade and giving teachers even more money.
“We’ve got to invest and deliver. We’ve got to pay educators more and we’ve got to hire more educators,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.
Her call to give teachers another pay raise received loud applause from fellow Democrats. Last year, educators received a 6% bump in pay, this year the governor is asking for another 4%.
She also hopes lawmakers will funnel more money into early childhood education programs like home visits, universal pre-k and more.
“The seeds we sow in early childhood investment right now, this year, will sustain generations to come,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.
The governor’s goal is to also get students in kindergarten through fifth grade more time in the classroom, making school days longer and extending the school year, saying it will benefit kids in the long run.
She tried to get the money for those kinds of programs last year but fell short, and is already facing criticism about the teacher pay raise. Some worry the state is relying too much on the oil revenue coming from southern New Mexico.
Republican lawmakers in both chambers say the state already funneled a lot of money last session for those raises and don’t see why the state should do it again. They would rather put that money towards educational programs.
“Unless we have these record oil and gas revenues every year, it’s going to be a problem,” Rep. Rod Montoya, (R) Farmington, said.
Even the Legislative Finance Committee, which is a group of lawmakers, is skeptical of the proposed increase in teacher pay.