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Education pension bill advances in Senate

In this file photo, legislative staffers set up Plexiglas dividers on the House floor in preparation for the start of a 60-day session. The dividers are intended as a safety precaution due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. (Eddie Moore/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — A proposal intended to strengthen the financial condition of the pension system for New Mexico educators passed its first committee 5-3 on Monday.

The legislation, Senate Bill 42, would require schools and other employers covered by the Educational Retirement Board to pay more into the system, with increases phased in over the next four years.

It’s expected to cost about $34 million more each year, reaching an annual cost of $136 million when fully phased in, according to legislative analysts. Employers would increase their contribution rates by 1 percentage point in each of the next four years.

Supporters described it as a necessary step to ensure the pension system doesn’t run out of money eventually.

“This will go a long way toward the solvency of this fund,” said Senate President Pro Tem Mimi Stewart, an Albuquerque Democrat and sponsor of the bill.

The measure would head next to the Senate Finance Committee, potentially its last stop before reaching the full Senate. It passed the Senate Education Committee along party lines, with Democrats in favor.

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