Salary hikes proposed for governor, top officials - Albuquerque Journal

Salary hikes proposed for governor, top officials

Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal

SANTA FE – New Mexico’s governor, attorney general, secretary of state and other statewide elected officials could get a large pay bump in 2023 under a plan endorsed in the run-up to this year’s 30-day session by a key legislative panel.

Recent proposed salary increases for elected officials have stalled at the Roundhouse, but backers of this year’s proposal say it’s time to bring state pay levels for such officials more in line with salary rates in other states.

Under the bill endorsed this week by the Legislative Finance Committee, the governor’s salary would be increased from $110,000 to $150,000 annually. The salary for the secretary of state would jump from $85,000 to $115,000 annually, while other statewide elected officials would also see pay increases.

Once the pay raises are fully phased in next year, they would cost the state slightly more than $400,000 per year, according to legislative officials.

While that would represent only a tiny portion of a state budget that could eclipse $8 billion for the budget year that starts in July, some lawmakers questioned the need for such raises.

“We’re not having trouble finding people to run for these jobs,” said Sen. Pat Woods, R-Broadview.

New Mexico pay rates for elected statewide officials are set in state law and have not been adjusted since 2002.

Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham vetoed a 2019 bill that would have authorized a 15% salary increase for the governor, state auditor, secretary of state, attorney general and other elected officials.

In her veto message, the governor said the pay raises might eventually be appropriate, but said she was not comfortable signing into law salary increases that could apply to current office-holders who might seek reelection in 2020 and beyond.

Lujan Grisham’s predecessor, Republican ex-Gov. Susana Martinez, also vetoed a similar proposal in 2018.

Though the bill would not have applied to her, Martinez criticized lawmakers for approving pay raises for politicians over legislation to improve the state’s economy.

This year’s proposal for adjusting the salary levels of New Mexico officials had not yet been officially filed at the Capitol as of Tuesday.

It would require Lujan Grisham’s signature in order to take effect and a spokeswoman said she did not know whether the governor would support or oppose the legislation without first seeing the bill.

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