The two-tiered nature of New Mexico’s economy is displayed in stark relief in the budget being voted on today in the New Mexico House. While many private sector workers, especially low wage workers have lost their jobs thanks to Gov. Lujan Grisham’s COVID-induced lockdown, State workers in New Mexico are in line for a nice bump in pay in their already-secure jobs.
Aside from the absurd nature of “across the board” raises for government employees at a time of high private sector unemployment , the Legislature is missing an opportunity to tie those pay hikes for teachers to getting back into the classroom. Budget documents are a critical way in which legislators can and do push for desired policies. If the Democrat-controlled Legislature wants New Mexico’s students back in their classrooms (as is widely recommended by health experts) they can and should add a requirement to that effect to the budget.
Even Gov. Lujan Grisham has expressed dismay that Albuquerque Public Schools has decided to remain “virtual” for the duration of the school year (we don’t know about the fall yet). If she wants in-person learning, she could push the Legislature to require it.