Gov. Susana Martinez unveiled her budget proposal today, just days after the Legislative Finance Council unveiled its version.
As always, the proposed budget the governor outlined has differences from the budget the legislature outlined. The two budgets are nearly $80 million apart.
“Job number one for the upcoming session is passing a responsible state budget that reflects our shared priorities,” Martinez said in a statement announcing the proposal. “There continues to be a great deal of uncertainty in the national economy and federal government that hurts New Mexico in a disproportionate way.”
“We’re in a sound fiscal position today because of bipartisan efforts over the past few years to ensure that we live within our means and focus intently on priority areas – like educating our children and growing our economy,” Martinez continued. “We need to exercise similar restraint, and have a similar focus this time around.”
The LFC budget included an across-the-board pay raise for state workers, including education workers. Martinez instead opts for “targeted” pay increases for some state workers — about 32 percent. Martinez also seeks to “overhaul” payment structures for New Mexico State Police and several other areas in state government.
Another big difference between the governor’s budget proposal and that of the LFC is on education funding. The full budget proposal from Martinez is embedded below.
Martinez’s proposal would increase annual pay for new teachers from $30,000 to $33,000. But, more controversially, it also has money earmarked for merit pay for high performing teachers. In all, incrases to teacher pay would cost around $18.6 million according to the governor.
The bill would also increase funding for struggling schools — those that get grades C, D or F in the school evaluation grading system — from $5 million from $9 million. The previous budget only allocates help for schools that have D or F grades.
The idea of merit pay will surely be a bone of contention between Martinez and Democrats who control both chambers in the state legislature.
Martinez’s budget also allocates funding to increase the health care workforce, citing “state and federal policy changes” — in other words Medicaid expansion through the Affordable Care Act. This could result in more than 200,000 additional New Mexicans on Medicaid rolls.
“Unprecedented changes in health care threaten to drive up costs and leave thousands without the primary care services they need,” Martinez said. “We can lead the nation in responding to this challenge by increasing the number of primary care practitioners, especially in rural areas.”
The Department of Tourism is also a big winner from the Martinez budget — the department would receive a $2.5 million increase in Martinez’s proposal.
Other big investments include water infrastructure projects and funding for the state Job Training Incentive Program (known more commonly as JTIP).