SANTA FE, N.M. — A plan to boost spending on roads and provide pay raises to top New Mexico elected officials, state workers and teachers is headed to the state House of Representatives for a vote.
A House budget writing committee endorsed the $6.3 billion general fund spending plan on Tuesday. Amendments can be made as the bill moves toward House and Senate votes. Republican Gov. Susana Martinez can veto provisions line-by-line.
A boom in local oil production and rising petroleum prices are bolstering state government finances. Government income is expected to surpass current annual spending obligations by $292 million during the coming fiscal year.
The plan would provide a 10 percent pay increase to statewide elected officials including the governor, attorney general, state treasurer, state auditor and secretary of state, as well as members of the Public Regulation Commission who regulate investor-owned electric and gas utilities. Those pay raises would take effect January 1, 2019.
Democratic House Finance and Appropriations Committee Chairwoman Patricia Lundstrom of Gallup said surging state income is being channeled toward compensation for state workers. She highlighted $80 million in proposed spending on road construction and maintenance, with one-quarter of that funding designated for local projects.
“The one-time money we’re getting is going toward construction of roads because that’s what stimulates the economy,” she said. “We’re trying to make the money work for the people of New Mexico.”
The spending bill would increase pay starting July 1 for all state employees by 2 percent, with larger increases slated for district attorneys, public defenders, state police, corrections officer, social workers and nurses.
The bill increases minimum teacher salaries by $2,000 and provides enough money for average teacher salary increases of 2.5 percent — though most raises would be at the discretion of individual school districts.
The district attorney’s office overseeing Albuquerque would receive a $5.5 million funding increase, amid acute concerns about crime in the state’s largest urban area. The allotment falls short of the governor’s $9.4 million recommendation.
The spending package includes $5 million in one-time funding for annual bonuses to high-performing teachers — a program proposed by the governor and Public Education Department.