Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – Amid projections for strong revenue growth, New Mexico teachers could be in line for salary increases aimed at bringing their pay levels roughly in line with the recent national average.
Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and a key legislative panel are proposing to boost teacher pay by 7% in the coming budget next year.
The budget proposals come after New Mexico’s education system has faced an explosion in teacher vacancies, a surge in educator retirements and dismal student proficiency rates.
Lujan Grisham, Democrat up for reelection this year, said educators deserve sizable raises after enduring the challenge of teaching during a pandemic. The goal, she said, would be to make New Mexico teachers the best-compensated in the region.
“New Mexico educators deserve better compensation – it’s as simple as that,” the governor said in a statement. “And we will deliver it.”
In addition to 7% raises, the governor’s proposal calls for increasing the minimum salary for teachers in the state’s three-tier licensing system to $50,000, $60,000 and $70,000.
Her office estimated the increases would bring the average educator salary to about $64,006 annually.
It would be roughly in line with estimates for the national average for public school teachers in the 2019-20 school year – $63,645, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, and $64,133, as calculated by the National Education Association.
Salaries for instructional staff in New Mexico last year trailed those in Colorado, Texas and Utah, according to NEA figures.
Rep. Ryan Lane, an Aztec Republican and member of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, said he favors an increase of some kind for teachers.
“Whether that number is 7 (percent), 5 or some other number, I’m not sure,” Lane said in an interview. “One of the issues I hear very commonly spoken about from people who don’t end up going into the teaching profession is they have a concern about the pay.”
Lawmakers, Lane said, should also take other steps to improve the school system, such as funding new efforts to provide mentors to less experienced teachers.