NM lawmakers debate how much money to allocate to public education

Politics - Government

SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – One of the state’s most important budgets – and certainly the biggest – was hotly debated in a committee meeting Wednesday morning.

What’s clear, lawmakers and the governor have different ideas on how much more money should be poured into public education. When it came down to funding for things like struggling students and teacher pay raises, lawmakers made some noise.

“I don’t know who made the mistake, but those funds were used to put into salaries, and so we didn’t do our job,” Rep. Williams Stapleton, (D) Albuquerque, said.

Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton turned up the heat on at-risk funding, saying lawmakers didn’t fulfill their promise last session of funneling enough money towards at-risk students. It was one of the main issues legislators tackled last session following the Yazzie-Martinez court case that ruled New Mexico wasn’t doing enough for at-risk students.

Then, there’s the fight over teacher pay.

“It seems like a flat raise doesn’t seem to make that much sense with the feedback we’ve got from people at different levels with their take-home pay,” Rep. Rebecca Dow, R (Truth or Consequences), said.

How much of an increase teachers should get differed between a few groups. The governor wants 4%, the powerful Legislative Finance Committee recommends 3%, and the Legislative Educational Subcommittee wants 6%.

Some lawmakers also think the lower-paid teachers should get a bigger raise than their higher-paid colleagues. But there was some common ground. All were in agreement that they have a long way to go to figure this out before the session ends in mid-February.

Last year, lawmakers signed off on giving teachers a 6% pay raise, much of it thanks to the oil boom in New Mexico.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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