Failing in its one constitutional priority, the Democrat-controlled House of Representatives could not get a budget to the Senate this 30-day session. Why? Because Democrats refused to compromise on a paltry $20 million out of a $6.17 billion dollar budget, of which $2.7 billion was for education.
That equates to .3 percent, in other words, two cents out of $6.10.
Gov. Susana Martinez, elected by the public and heading a co-equal branch of government, originally wanted $124 million for public school classroom initiatives, but compromised by coming down $107 million.
But the Democrat-controlled House had such a hard time stomaching a .3 percent compromise that they refused to fulfill their number one responsibility to the state’s taxpayers.
They fought tooth and nail against a Republican amendment that would have sent $20 million in new education initiatives directly to failing public school classrooms, while guaranteeing 3 percent raises for public school teachers.
This was just days after a national report showed that, thanks to Martinez’ education initiatives, New Mexico had the second highest percentage in the nation of poor students to pass an advanced placement test and the highest number of Hispanic students to pass an AP test.
Republican education initiatives have thus delivered more successful results in less than four years than the Democrat majority has in 61 years of controlling the state’s education budget.
Is this why they refused to compromise on such a small amount?
Why don’t they want New Mexico’s kids to move beyond dead last in the nation, where they have kept them for more than half a century?
New Mexico is in the top 10 states nationwide for spending on school administration and bureaucracy, 25th for per-pupil spending and one of the worst in overall results.
The Albuquerque Public School system spends 49.1 percent of its budget on non-classroom personnel.
According to the state’s Legislative Finance Council, the average annual salary for returning teachers in New Mexico is approximately $46,000, more than $3,000 higher than the median household income in the state. Nationwide, it’s $44,000. Meanwhile, the national presidents of the American Federation of Teachers and the National Education Association earn nearly $500,000 apiece.
Republicans are sick of our kids being last. We are tired of the money we vote to appropriate for teachers’ pay raises never getting to them, getting lost instead in the funding formula where they disappear into a black hole of administration and bureaucracy.
With New Mexico’s kids already ranking – yet again – dead last in the nation in education, how much worse does education have to get in New Mexico before those in control are willing to put kids before political power plays that are extremely unfair to them?
Let Martinez continue her already successful education initiatives. We owe it to our children, who are growing up in an ever-increasingly competitive global economy.
Einstein famously said that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. It is time for a change in New Mexico.