Legislative Update

April 11, 2001

Education News
· Mandatory Teacher Salary Increases Approved
· Capital Outlay Funds Vetoed
The Budget Includes Mandatory Pay Raises

The General Appropriations Act of 2001 was signed by Governor Gary E. Johnson last week. (The bill's full title is: House Appropriations and Finance Committee Substitute for House Bills 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, & 8 and House Education Committee Substitute for House Bill 3. I am not making this up.)

Here is the language in the bill regarding educational employees' pay:

"The general fund appropriation for the state equalization guarantee distribution contains sufficient funds to provide an eight percent salary increase for teachers, and a six and one-half percent increase for other instructional staff, certified and non-certified staff. "

It goes on to say: (and this is the enforcing provision)

"Prior to the approval of a district's budget, the state superintendent of public instruction shall verify that each local school board is providing the eight percent increase for teachers."

And finally:

"The appropriation for the transportation distribution contains sufficient funding to provide a statewide average six and one-half percent salary increase for transportation employees." after a water call.

Comment by Senator Adair:

These provisions were hammered out in both the senate and house education committees, which are dominated by public education teachers, some of whom are in administration. Their consensus concerning the language shown above prevailed in the respective Finance and Appropriation committees. An individual senator who is not a member of any of those four committees (I fall into that category) may vote only on the entire 200-page General Appropriations Act, up or down, on final passage on the senate floor. I voted for the bill.

Effects on salaries:

A teacher earning $24,000 will receive an increase of $1,920 in 2001-02
A teacher earning $28,000 will receive an increase of $2,240 in 2001-02
A teacher earning $32,000 will receive an increase of $2,560 in 2001-02
A teacher earning $36,000 will receive an increase of $2,880 in 2001-02

I supported a bill sponsored by Senator Joseph J. Carraro of Albuquerque which provided for an across-the-board pay raise of $3,500 for every teacher. The teachers' unions always oppose across-the-board raises, therefore the bill was defeated.

Capital Outlay Funds Vetoed

Included in Friday's actions by the governor was a veto of all capital outlay funds. This was very disappointing to me personally, as I had been able to designate more than $1,500,000 in projects to be funded for both Roswell and Artesia, as well as Chaves and Eddy Counties. I hope we will be able to address this issue in a special session prior to the end of the fiscal year on June 30.

Note: Whenever these funds have been approved in prior years, or if they are eventually approved this year, they are not funds that "I got," or projects that "I built," or "I funded," as many legislators like to say. These are taxpayers' dollars. When people give credit to legislators for these projects, whether it be a paved road, a museum, a soccer complex, Pioneer Plaza, or computers for schools, the credit is misplaced, and I try never to forget to point that out.

As a matter of fact, I supported a bill this year which requires that all these plaques placed on public buildings recognize "the taxpayers of New Mexico," not just the names of city councilors, school board members, state legislators, et cetera. Would you believe it passed the Senate 26-8? Why would 8 legislators object to that? Beats me.