AP NEWS

The Latest: New Mexico spending plan, teacher raises advance

February 18, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on budget negotiations in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

4:00 p.m.

A spending bill that would increase New Mexico state spending on public school education by about 16 percent or $450 million is headed to the floor of the House of Representatives for consideration over the objections of Republicans.

Democrats on the lead House budget-writing committee advanced the bill on a 12-6 party-line vote Monday over the objections of Legislators in the Republican minority. The bill would increase overall state general fund spending by nearly $700 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1 to just over $7 billion.

Republican Rep. Paul Bandy of Aztec says he supports the bill’s 6 percent pay increases for teachers but worries that the overall spending plan can’t be sustained in future years and may lead to painful budget cuts. Public schools in New Mexico rely on state government for a majority of their funding.

The bill would set aside financial reserves of nearly $1.6 billion in case of an economic downturn.

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12:15 a.m.

State general fund spending would increase by about 11 percent and provide a 6 percent pay increase for public school teachers across New Mexico under a proposal from the lead House budget writing committee.

House Appropriations and Finance Committee Chairwoman Patricia Lundstrom said Monday that the spending plan for the fiscal year beginning July 1 is designed to address a court order to provide more resources for public education.

The $7 billion spending proposal would increase annual public school funding by more than $450 million but stop somewhat short of spending recommendations by Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

The House bill includes a 4 percent pay increase for nearly all state workers. A surge in state government income also would go toward road construction and film industry incentives.