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Thursday, November 27, 2014

Martinez approves 1% pay raise

Governor signs bill raising salaries of all state employees

news@dailylobo.com

Gov. Susana Martinez on Friday signed a bill that allows for a 1 percent pay increase for UNM faculty and staff.

The governor had until noon on Friday to sign, veto or do nothing with bills passed through the Legislature this session.

Martinez signed the $5.9 billion state budget proposal Friday, which included several line-item vetoes. However, the 1-percent pay increase for state employees, including UNM faculty and staff, remained, as did the 3.5 percent increase in funding for UNM.
It has been four years since the last faculty and staff pay raise at UNM.

Martinez also signed into law the bill that proposed diverting $10 million from the tobacco settlement permanent fund into the Lottery Scholarship to prevent cuts to student tuition assistance.

This will cover current scholarship recipients and the projected number to receive the scholarship for the 2013-14 school year.

Martinez said in a statement that she signed the bill as a short-term measure while the search for a permanent solution to Lottery Scholarship solvency continues.

“So, although I am signing this bill, I encourage lawmakers to work together to restructure the lottery program so we can maintain solvency and so the program is sustainable without a continued infusion of other state funds,” Martinez said.

A capital outlay bill saw $4.4 million in projects spending vetoed before the governor signed it into law. The vetoes included $125,000 in projects spending out of a total of $10.1 million in projects spending for UNM.

Martinez also signed a tax package that included the so-called “Breaking Bad bill,” which was vetoed last month then integrated into this tax package. The “Breaking Bad bill” provision expands tax incentives for television crews filming long-running television shows in New Mexico.

According to the bill, tax refunds for television crews are increased from 25 percent to 30 percent of a producer’s total qualified spending amount.

The overall tax package focuses on lowering income taxes on corporations operating within the state in an attempt to allow businesses to expand operations and new businesses to begin operations. It also gives tax breaks to corporations that sell most of their products outside New Mexico.

Martinez also signed into law a bill that would make it easier for space tourism companies to operate out of New Mexico’s Spaceport America by shielding them from civil damages lawsuits. The bill does so by creating state-specific legal definitions of space flight and related terms, such as what a spacecraft and space tourist are.

Martinez vetoed a bill that would have raised the state minimum wage from $7.50 to $8.50.

In her veto statement, Martinez said she would have supported a 30-cent minimum wage increase that would bring the state’s minimum wage in line with Arizona’s.

“I was clear with lawmakers that I support an increase in the minimum wage in New Mexico — one that would put us on a level playing field with neighboring states,” Martinez said. “This compromise had bipartisan support, but failed on a tie vote in the House.”

By contrast, Albuquerque and Santa Fe both enjoy minimum wages higher than the state’s. Albuquerque’s new minimum wage of $8.50 took effect Jan. 1 after two-thirds of voters approved the ballot item in November.

Santa Fe’s new minimum wage of $10.51 took effect March 1. It’s tied to the city’s Living Wage law, which makes minimum wage increases mandatory whenever there is an annual increase in the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Consumer Price Index for Urban Wage Earners and Clerical Workers in the Western Region.

Bernalillo County commissioners are considering a plan to raise the county’s minimum wage from $7.50 to $8 on July 1, and then to $8.50 on Jan. 1, 2014. Commissioners will hold a final vote on the plan April 23.