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Gov. Martinez signs $6.2 billion budget

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Gov. Susana Martinez signs a $6 billion state budget but cut spending about $27 million with line-item vetoes. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

Gov. Susana Martinez signs a $6 billion state budget but cut spending about $27 million with line-item vetoes. (Jim Thompson/Journal)

Gov. Susana Martinez today signed off today on a $6.2 billion budget for the coming fiscal year, but used her line-item veto authority to delete more than $27 million in proposed spending.

A proposed 8 percent pay increase for New Mexico judges and district attorneys was among the spending proposals axed by Martinez.

The Republican governor, who has until tomorrow to act on legislation approved during the final days of this year’s 30-day session, noted she would have approved a smaller increase for judges.

“I could have supported a 3 percent increase, like all other employees,” Martinez told reporters at the ceremonial bill signing, which was held at a Rio Rancho elementary school.

“By the way it was written, they gave me two choices — no increase or an 8 percent increase,” Martinez added. “Teachers were only getting a 3 percent increase and teachers don’t earn anywhere near what a judge earns.”

In all, the final version of the budget will increase state spending by about $266 million — or 4.3 percent — over this year’s levels.

The budget includes wage hikes averaging 3 percent for rank-and-file state employees and teachers, which will be their largest pay increase since 2008.

Some teachers could see even larger pay raises, as the budget increases minimum starting teacher pay from $30,000 annually to $32,000 per year. However, Martinez vetoed budget language that would have similarly raised the minimum salaries of more experienced teachers.

She also struck down proposed salary increases for political appointees.

Martinez also eliminated $15 million for public schools because she said the money isn’t needed until 2016 when newly enacted changes in the state’s school funding formula take effect, according to the Associated Press.

Check tomorrow’s Journal for more information.

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