AFT NEW MEXICO PRESIDENT STEPHANIE LY CALLS ON THE GOVERNOR AND HOUSE REPUBLICANS TO ENGAGE IN MEANINGFUL COMPROMISE AND STOP HOLDING UP THE STATE BUDGET OVER FUNDING FOR FAILED REFORMS.
Wednesday, the House moved House Bill 2 back to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee (HAFC), where Republicans will have another chance to reach a meaningful compromise and allow the budget process to move forward.
The battle over the budget comes down to education. The governor is holding up the budget to put an additional $20 million in below-the-line and in the hands of an incompetent Public Education Department. The Democratic members have held strong in maintaining “above-the-line” funding to districts and keeping the governor’s merit pay initiative to link teacher pay to standardized-test scores out of the budget.
Prior to the tied budget vote on the floor, the HAFC deliberated for over a week on the education funding in House Bill 3. In an attempt to compromise with the Republicans and the governor, the House Appropriations Democrats moved $40 million of funds back “below-the-line.” But, that was not enough for the Governor. When it became clear that the Republicans and the governor would not engage in compromise, the HAFC moved the budget out of committee on party lines.
When HB2 was heard on the floor of the House, Republican Minority Leader Bratton presented the Executive’s recommendations in an amendment which called for an additional $20 million to be put below the line. The debate over the amendment continued well past the three hour limit with Democratic representatives reading letters and providing testimony from parents, teachers, students and community members in support of the un-amended House Bill 2. At the end of debate, the amendment died on a tie vote and shortly after HB2 tied as well.
“Our Democratic House leaders and legislators understand the implications of decreasing education funding to our districts," said AFT NM President Stephanie Ly. “It is clear that the Governor and House Republicans want to continue expanding the current damaging environment in education. We are grateful to have strong democratic education leadership who advocate for our educators, students and community members. Republicans and the governor tout their ability to compromise. This is their opportunity.”