The Second Session of the 56th Legislature
January 2, 2024 - January 12: Legislation may be prefiled
January 16: Opening day (noon)
January 18: NEA-NM Lobby Day
January 31: Deadline for introduction
February 15: Session ends (noon)
March 6: Legislation not acted upon by governor is pocket vetoed
May 15: Effective date of legislation not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date
Pre-Filed Public School Bills
Only days before the session begins, legislators have pre-filed a number of bills. Among the bills we will be tracking this session, two very progressive House bills float to the top. The first bill, HB 39, sponsored by Rep. Yanira Gurrola is aimed at providing sufficient funding for public schools to comply with the Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit and deliver the necessary resources and opportunities that At-Risk, ESL, Native American and Special Education students deserve.
Rep. Debra Sarinana is fighting for clean air and to reduce students health risks. HB 75 will provide school districts funding to replace school buses with electric or zero emission alternative fuel school buses.
For more information and a list of all pre-filed public school bills see the table below:
Representative Joy Garratt
CHARTER SCHOOL OVERSIGHT EXPENDITURE PLAN
Representative Joy Garratt
SCHOOL ADMIN PREP. PROGRAMS REQUIREMENTS
Representative Yanira Gurrola
YAZZIE LAWSUIT EDUCATIONAL FUNDING
Representative Ambrose Castellano
PUBLIC SCHOOL SAFETY COMMUNICATIONS SYSTEM
Representative Andrea Reeb
CANNABIS SCHOOL USE PREVENTION RESOURCE ACT
Representative Mark Duncan
SCHOOL-BASED MENTAL HEALTH COUNSELORS
Representative Debra M. Sarinana
ELECTRIC SCHOOL BUSES
House Bill 2 or The Budget Bill passed out of the House of Representatives (1/31) amended as follows:
"Money appropriated to the public education department shall not be used to implement or enforce any rule establishing a minimum requirement of one hundred eighty instructional days per school year."
HB 2 – The Budget Bill - is now in the Senate Finance Committee, where no doubt there will be changes. As of now, some Highlights from the Bill:
*A 2% compensation proposal has been described as a cost-of-living adjustment and an additional 2% average raise for a total of 4% average salary increase. All public educators (including transportation and higher education) will receive an average 4% raise.
- $21 million for universal free meals for students (combination of FY ’24 & ’25)
- $5 million for school leader professional development
- $500 thousand for National Board-Certified Teacher candidate scholarships
- $55 million for instructional materials
- $14 million for early literacy and reading supports
*$62.769 million for a 2% raise for K-12, K-12 Transportation, and Higher Education public educators (COLA)
*$62.769 million for an additional 2% average raise for K-12, K-12 Transportation, and Higher Education public educators
- $49 million for teacher mentorship, CTE programs, and community school programs
- $5 million for student attendance support interventions
- $2 million for the construction of libraries on tribal lands
- $13.3 million for funding extended learning programs for tribal and rural communities
- $40 million for increased career technical education pilot programs in K-12 schools
- $8 million for additional funding for community school programs (NEA-NM supports 12.5 million)
- $15 million for summer reading intervention programs
- $50 million for the Tribal Education Trust Fund
- $1 million for dual-credit programs for students
- $10 million for student scholarships for those entering graduate-level STEM programs
- $10 million for scholarships for those pursuing social worker degrees at the BA or MA level
- $20 million for educator clinical practice programs (residencies, etc.)
- $5 million for the teacher loan repayment fund
- $20 million for NM Community Colleges and Universities to offset costs associated with skilled trades programs that grant certification or licensure that are otherwise ineligible for scholarship funding.
Important Funding that is not in the budget:
HB 199- Educational Assistant Salary - would place a $15.00/hour minimum wage for hourly education workers into law and provide a $30,000 minimum salary for all public educators in K-12 schools. This bill has the support of the Legislative Education Study Committee, but it is not in the budget bill. NEA-NM supports HB 199
HB 215- (Rep Yanira Gurrola) This bill would eliminate waivers and average language, set up a reporting portal for violations and greatly reduce class size in K-12 will not be heard this session.
HM 20- (Rep. GA Romero) Study Class Size Reduction requests that the Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC) do a comprehensive interim study of class size in NM, including the potential effects on student outcomes, staffing, and funding. NEA-NM supports HM 20
House Bill 171 is a reintroduced version of legislation from the last session that, despite passing the legislature, was vetoed by Governor Lujan Grisham. HB 171 aims to update New Mexico’s graduation requirements and create opportunities for local school districts to offer courses which reflect the needs of their students and the interests of their community.
HB 171 would keep a requirement for a minimum of 24 credits to graduate, remove the Algebra II requirement for graduation (while still requiring that Algebra II be offered), increase flexibility for electives which could be used for CTE or foreign language arts, and create more opportunities for offering financial literacy, without mandating it as required class.
HM 32 requests a comprehensive study, including a review of compensation data for temporary and non-temporary instructional staff, and incorporating content such as salaries and benefits, counts, titles, credits or contract hours taught, other required duties, and course overload policies for all public postsecondary educational institutions in the state. The New Mexico Higher Education Department (HED) is requested to work in collaboration with the Legislative Finance Committee and the Legislative Education Study Committee and to consult with faculty and instructional staff, directors from diverse department and programs, representatives of bargaining units, human resource managers, chief academic officers, and administrators at each of the state’s two- and four-year public postsecondary education institutions.
House Memorial 32 now heads to the full House of Representatives for final adoption. It does not require the Governor’s signature to enact. NEA-NM Supports HM 32.
SJR 5 would ask New Mexico voters through a constitutional amendment to permanently protect the Retiree Healthcare Authority.
If approved by legislators, and then New Mexico voters, SJR 5 would not only ensure the long-term health and status of this program, but also fulfill the expectation of the retired and active public employees who contributed and are contributing towards future retirement benefits during their public service.
New Mexico's Retiree Healthcare Authority currently serves approximately 67,000 educational retirees and 93,000 active participants from all sectors of New Mexico’s public employees. It is estimated that 10% of New Mexico's population will be served by the NMRHCA.
Week 2: Jan 22nd to Jan 26th
With chronic absenteeism at 39 percent statewide, student math scores in decline, graduation rates staying stubbornly static, relentless academic opportunity gaps remaining among student groups, an educator shortage crisis with no end in sight and a whopping $3.5 billion of new money stashed in the state coffer, both the Senate Education and House Education heard and debated a number of bills seeking to deliver the anticipated promise of an adequate public education for all students.
With the current down-hearted reality of our public education system as a backdrop, we bring you the following update for week two of the 30-day session. For the sake of brevity, not all education bills will be reviewed with the understanding, however, that all bills are important, at least to someone.
The House Education and Senate Education Committees met for a joint meeting to review the 3 different proposed K-12 budgets for FY25. One from each of the following entities: Executive, Legislative Education Study Committee (LESC), and the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC).
It’s no surprise that the breadth and depth of what is in the budget framework for public school support is substantial and indicative of what lawmakers view as a priority. It is a strong bellwether of what will most likely get legislated or not in the next 24 days. Below is just a snapshot. For a full description of the proposed budgets please click HERE
Proposed SEG for FY25 ($ in billions)
- LESC → $4,312b
- LFC → $4,229b
- Executive → $4,181b
Snapshot Analysis: The LESC proposed SEG comes in the highest. Most of the $100m or more difference is due to pay raises.
Proposed Salary Increase FY25
- LESC → 6%
- LFC → 4%
- Executive → 3%
Snapshot Analysis: Given the high and low, it seems that a 4% pay raise is the compromise. Indeed, if so, there is a caveat. It’s not a straight 4%, it’s a 2% average and 2% cost of living adjustment. There is still plenty of time to call legislators and tell them to give educators a 6% pay raise.
Increase Minimum Salary ($30,000) for all full-time school employees.
- LESC → $24.8m
- LFC → No proposal
- Executive → No proposal
Snapshot Analysis: LESC endorsed HB 199, the bill that legislates the $30k minimum. The bill enjoys bi-partisan support but it’s not part of the LFC nor the Executive budget, complicating the legislative process. Stay tuned for more updates.
Proposed Insurance FY25(in millions)
- LESC → $25.6m
- LFC → $41m
- Executive → $25.6m
Snapshot Analysis: All three proposals are set to cover increases in healthcare costs softening the blow to educators take home pay. A 80/20 healthcare bill is in the works and soon to be filed.
After a lengthy discussion, House Bill 39, Yazzie Lawsuit Educational Funding, sponsored by Representative Gurrola and Representative Caballero, passed along party lines in the House Education Committee. With an appropriation of $27.5 million to Higher Education, Tribal Colleges and the Public Education Department, this legislation aims at improving educational outcomes for ESL, At-Risk, Special Ed and Native American students by ensuring that public postsecondary educational institutions develop and support educator workforce and school leadership development. The bill seeks to increase the number of bilingual teachers and resources for educators in bilingual multicultural education programs among other initiatives.
Most objections were grounded on certain financial deficiencies and not the intent of the policy. Representative Spence Ezzell expressed her concerns by stating “This is a very valiant effort...we do need those bilingual teachers in our classrooms, but I don’t want to start a program like this and have the rope jerked from under us.” In her steps, Representative Chatfield added, “I support what this bill brings forth, but it appropriates money that is not recurring.”
The bill is headed to the House Appropriation Finance Committee where most likely it will face a considerable uphill battle considering it’s not part of the LFC nor the Executive’s proposed budgets.
In the Senate Education Committee, lawmakers voted in favor of a bill to hire a wine professional at New Mexico State University while rolling over a bill that would develop and hire faculty for the school of public health. They did, however, vote in favor of SB 41, Mental Health Initiatives, sponsored by Senator Hemphill. The bill appropriates $12.4 million from the general fund to the Higher Education Department for the purpose of supporting various mental health initiatives at higher education institutions.
The committee also voted in favor of SB 55, Anti-Hazing Act, sponsored by Senator Pope. The bill requires both public and private postsecondary schools to create a Code of Conduct and Hazing Prevention Committee and training and education on the topic.
HB 199, Educational Assistant Salary, sponsored by Representatives Herrera, Romero, Lara, Baca and Gurrola increases the minimum annual salary for all full-time public-school employees to $30 thousand. An overdue and much welcomed change to recruit and retain quality educators that are undoubtedly the backbone of our schools, members of the HEC voted unanimously to pass this bill. NEA-NM stood and spoke in support of this legislation. We believe that all educators from the bus stop to the cafeteria and to the classroom and beyond educate our students and deserve a competitive and living wage. HB 199 is now headed to the House Appropriations and Finance Committee. Make sure to call your legislators and tell them to support this bill.
HEC also heard two bills relating to funding the Indian Education Act, HB 134, Tribal Education Trust Fund and HB 135, Indian Education Fund Distributions, both sponsored by Representative Lente. Despite enjoying full support from both sides of the aisle and being endorsed by the LESC, the first bill was rolled due to a pending amendment. The second bill received a unanimous vote in favor.
On the Senate side and topping the list of what can be considered the most controversial bill heard in the SEC today, SJR 9, State School Board, CA sponsored by Senator Neville received a Do Pass. NEA-NM firmly supports this legislation. We believe that an elected School Board with 5 appointees from the Governor will be better suited to move research based, educator supported policy forward. It would also avoid rushed, under-vetted policy and regulation, the current teacher shortage being a prime example.
Week 1: Jan 16th to Jan 19th
NEA-NM members walked the halls of the Roundhouse on Thursday -- meeting with legislators and advocating for our students and public schools. For some, it was their first-time attending NEA-NM’s Lobby Day and the ensuing engagement with legislators was quite the experience. Members reported that a great majority of lawmakers support both our legislative and policy priorities.
Democrats and Republicans agree: we need to reduce class size loads and invest more in our schools. They are also strongly against the Public Education Department’s proposed rule of requiring a minimum of 180 days and eliminating the 4-day school week.
As of Friday, legislators have filed a total of 315 bills; of those, 24 are public school bills. Both legislative Senate and House chambers are still in the process of referring these bills, so debate and committee votes are pending.
The House Education Committee (HEC) is set to have their first organizational meeting on Monday, January 21, following a joint meeting with the Senate Education Committee (SEC). You can watch the HEC and SEC meetings online. They are usually set for every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, starting at 8:00am. Visit https://www.nmlegis.gov/ and click on the Webcast tab.
Thank you for your support this 30-day New Mexico Legislative Session!
- Steve Siañez, NEA-NM Government Relations Director
- [email protected]