But that’s the problem! (Paid legislators “represent their government employers”)

I found the article in today’s Albuquerque Journal by former Rep. Barbara Perea Casey to be interesting. After discussing the supposed hardships of being in the Legislature and the court case that enabled New Mexico teachers to serve in the Legislature after they were defined as not being “state” employees, she makes some rather enlightening comments about the role of government school teachers in the Legislature. Perea Casey writes:

It is my personal opinion that legislators who are also educators are providing a distinct and unique service to the school districts that employ them. In the case of Stapleton, she continues to perform her job duties.

It is sad that some of the school board members do not realize her worth in terms of how much bad legislation she can stop, or how much influence she has in education advocacy, especially in her powerful position of majority whip. It is also unfortunate that she is not viewed as a supporter for Albuquerque Public Schools, because that is what she is.

So, government school educators serving in the Legislature are not supposed to serve their constituents (or that is an unmentioned afterthought), rather, they are naturally supposed to align themselves with the interests of their employers by stopping “bad” legislation. Presumably this means vouchers, school choice, budget cuts, and anything else that would undermine the power and financial interests of the government school monopoly.

So, not only is government education politically-sympathetic and not only do they have lobbyists, but they also have legislators who are paid by the schools (read taxpayers) to be in Santa Fe. Pretty sweet deal! Needless to say, legislators who run their own businesses or hold down private-sector jobs don’t get this perk. Government begetting bigger, less-accountable government is why former AG Hal Stratton attempted to stop the practice.

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One Reply to “But that’s the problem! (Paid legislators “represent their government employers”)”

  1. Can you say conflict of interest. The NM legislature is full of conflicts. Last time I checked we had several legislators who serve in Tribal Government as well as state government as well as teachers putting themselves in the same position. Everybody seems to be feathering their own nests. I know there are ethics committees all over the place, but finding them handling anything to do with ethics seems to be a lost endeavor in Santa Fe. Working on issues that affect your own industry/interests after getting yourself elected as a legislator seems to be the ultimate lobbying position. We have been throwing money at the education problem for years and the situation only seems to get worse. Maybe money is not the answer. Could be the undue influence behind the scenes.

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