Proposal to increase pay of governor and other elected officials clears legislative committee

A proposal to give the governor and other statewide elected officials hefty raises while state employees are poised to receive average 7 percent pay increases under New Mexico’s proposed budget touched off a spirited debate Sunday at the Capitol. The Senate Finance Committee advanced Senate Bill 202 on a 7-4 party-line vote with Republicans expressing […]

Proposal to increase pay of governor and other elected officials clears legislative committee

A proposal to give the governor and other statewide elected officials hefty raises while state employees are poised to receive average 7 percent pay increases under New Mexico’s proposed budget touched off a spirited debate Sunday at the Capitol.

The Senate Finance Committee advanced Senate Bill 202 on a 7-4 party-line vote with Republicans expressing concerns about the optics and the need to boost the pay of elective offices that typically have no shortage of candidates.

Sen. Crystal Diamond, R-Elephant Butte, said she’d be open to supporting the proposed pay increases if “contingencies” were part of the deal.

“So, we’re trying to bring the governor’s salary from 44th up to 19th” in national rankings, she said. “Can we make that contingent upon her bringing New Mexico’s CYFD (Children, Youth and Families Department) child welfare from 50th to 19th? Or for education from 50th to 19th? I mean, I’ve got to say that our return on this governor and arguably the last governor hasn’t been too great.”

Sen. William Burt, R-Alamogordo, said he, too, wanted to see performance measures as a condition of the salary increases.

“It’s hard for me to justify increases” as high as 55 percent, he said.

Members of the Public Regulation Commission would get the biggest pay bump, from $90,000 to $140,000. The proposed salary increase comes after voters approved a constitutional amendment changing the panel from an elected five-member commission to an appointed three-member commission.

Under the proposal, the governor would get the next highest salary increase, from $110,000 to $150,000 — or $40,000 more annually. The salaries of the lieutenant governor, secretary of state, auditor and treasurer would increase from $85,000 to $115,000 a year. The attorney general’s salary would jump from $95,000 to $125,000 annually, and the commissioner of public lands would also be paid $125,000, up from the current salary of $90,000.

Sen. Pete Campos, D-Las Vegas, who is sponsoring the legislation, said the salaries of statewide elected officials haven’t been adjusted in decades.

“The last time this was done was about 20 years ago,” he said.

Sen. Siah Correa Hemphill, D-Silver City, said the proposed pay hikes could increase the diversity of candidates seeking statewide office.

“Being able to serve in public office when you have a different level of livelihood, this is going to provide a better pathway for people who may come from less advantaged backgrounds,” she said.

If approved, the salary increases wouldn’t go into effect right away.

“The New Mexico Constitution prohibits changes to the salary of a public official mid-term, so all changes would occur at the beginning of new terms,” according to a fiscal impact report.

Sen. Nancy Rodriguez, D-Santa Fe, said the governor and other statewide elected officials devote an incredible amount of time as public servants.

“If we were to tabulate that, it would still be below zero what we’re giving them because this has truly been public service,” she said. “There’s no reason why we can’t increase these salaries to an amount that is at least reasonable. I don’t think it’s exorbitant. I think it just brings them up to a level where it’s not embarrassing. This has been very bad here in New Mexico and the way we have these salaries so low.”

Sen. Bill Sharer, R-Farmington, noted the proposed increases are considerably higher than those for state workers.

“What message does that send to all of those people that we just said, ‘You’re only worth 7 [percent], you peons,'” he said. “And it wasn’t me who called them peons. It looks to me like this 30, 40, 50 percent increase verses seven.”

Campos said a similar proposal has been met with opposition in the past.

“The inflationary rate, about 2 percent per year, so you figure that for about the last 20 years, that’s a good 40 percent,” he said. “We’re trying to bring out some equity … but we continue to fall further and further behind when it comes to the compensation for our elected officials.”

Follow Daniel J. Chacón on Twitter @danieljchacon.

We're ad free

That means that we rely on support from readers like you. Help us keep reporting on the most important New Mexico Stories by donating today.

Related

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Governor to call special session for public safety legislation this summer

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced that she will call the Legislature into a special session this summer to address public safety legislation that did…
Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List endorses seven candidates for Legislature

Emily’s List, a nonprofit that supports women candidates and reproductive rights, endorsed seven incumbents facing general election opponents in New Mexico legislative elections. All…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

BLM finalizes controversial public lands rule

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management finalized its controversial public lands rule on Thursday. This rule is controversial because it allows for conservation leasing…
Haaland signs order protecting sacred lands near Placitas

Haaland signs order protecting sacred lands near Placitas

Interior Secretary Deb Haaland signed an order on Thursday to withdraw more than 4,200 acres of land in Sandoval County near Placitas from mineral…
Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

Amid new graduation requirements, what do high schoolers want to learn?

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican The main things that bring Brayan Chavez to school every day: Seeing, talking to and engaging with…
Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

Special ed teachers hope lawmakers OK pay raises, admin changes

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican Brittany Behenna Griffith has a laundry list of adjectives to describe the ideal special education teacher:…
Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

Lawmakers must find consensus on competing education spending plans

By Margaret O’Hara, The Santa Fe New Mexican A challenging task awaits New Mexico lawmakers in the next 30 days: Reconciling three very different…
Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Health workers fear it’s profits before protection as CDC revisits airborne transmission

Amy Maxmen, KFF Health News Four years after hospitals in New York City overflowed with covid-19 patients, emergency physician Sonya Stokes remains shaken by…
Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Lujan Grisham, Biden admin announce $10 million in federal funds for tribes, pueblos

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham announced Friday $10 million in funding from the federal American Rescue Plan Act was awarded to six tribal nations and…
Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

Proposal to curb executive powers moves to House Judiciary

The House Government, Elections and Indian Affairs Committee discussed a potential constitutional amendment that seeks to limit the governor’s executive powers. The committee approved…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

Stansbury introduces judicial ethics bill on U.S. Supreme Court steps

U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbury announced a bill on Thursday that would, if enacted, establish judicial ethics to the U.S. Supreme Court. The Judicial Ethics…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

How the AZ Supreme Court decision on abortion impacts New Mexico

The Arizona Supreme Court ruled on Tuesday that an 1864 abortion ban is enforceable, throwing another state bordering New Mexico into the situation of…
Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Effort to challenge six laws enacted last year comes to an end

Earlier this month, the New Mexico Supreme Court denied and dismissed the effort to challenge six laws enacted in 2023. The New Mexico Supreme…
Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

Vasquez calls out Republicans for ‘inaction’ on border policy

U.S. Rep. Gabriel “Gabe” Vasquez, a Democrat who represents the state’s 2nd Congressional District along the U.S.-Mexico border, cosponsored a resolution on Monday calling…
Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

Politics and abortion, how much will it matter?

At the national level, abortion is still a high-stakes issue with both major presidential candidates talking about it in their campaigns, but it may…
Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

Two PFAS chemicals designated hazardous substances under Superfund law

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency released a final rule Friday to designate two types of PFAS chemicals as hazardous substances. Those two chemicals are perfluorooctanoic…
New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children has new leadership

New Mexico Voices for Children, an organization that focuses on tax policy and how it impacts children in poverty, has new leadership. Gabrielle Uballez…
Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

Abortion fund provider rebrands and holds open house

An abortion fund provider unveiled a rebrand and offered an open house in Las Cruces to celebrate the organization’s new name, mission and values. …

GET INVOLVED

© 2023 New Mexico Political Report