ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Gov. Susana Martinez, delivering the annual State of the State address, said New Mexico is on the right track to rebuilding its struggling economy, but called on state lawmakers to pass legislation aimed at child safety, education and job creation during the 60-day legislative session that began today.
The Republican governor, who just began her second term in office, urged legislators to approve several hotly-debated measures that have stalled in previous sessions, including a bill that would require third-graders that cannot read proficiently to repeat the grade level.
“I ask that, in every decision, we choose courage over comfort, change over stagnation, reform over status quo,” Martinez said in her speech.
While Martinez did not roll out any major new policy initiatives during her 49-minute address, she said she will push for various tax breaks and spending measures aimed at improving New Mexico’s economy.
She also voiced support for a measure that would bar nonunion employees from having to pay union dues as a condition of their employment. Most Democratic lawmakers did not applaud in response and are expected to forcefully oppose the push for right-to-work legislation.
Martinez’s also outlined her education agenda, which includes a proposal to increase minimum salary levels for new teachers, create a new teacher mentorship program and the retention legislation, commonly known as “social promotion.”
“I firmly believe that education is the road that will lead out of poverty for each New Mexico child, for each struggling family and for our state as a whole,” the governor said.
Martinez will likely be bolstered during the 60-day session by a GOP-led House. Republicans picked up four seats in the November 2014 election and now hold a 37-33 majority in the chamber.
However, Democrats still have a 25-17 advantage in the Senate, which could prove to be a stumbling block for some Martinez-backed bills.
Senate Democratic Floor Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, delivered the official Democratic response to the governor’s State of the State address this afternoon and signaled Democrats will not sign off on some of Martinez’s top initiatives.
He said Martinez’s speech was full of “spin” and appeared to be focused largely toward luring out-of-state corporations to New Mexico.
“The governor needs to admit she’s wrong on education and on right to work,” Sanchez said. “She’s dead wrong.”