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HomeQuick HitsLegislative Finance Committee tweaks state education budget ask

Legislative Finance Committee tweaks state education budget ask

New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee endorsed the Public Education Department’s request for a budget boost of more than 12 percent in 2022, but emphasized some different priorities than those in the department’s request.

The biggest line item in the PED’s request totaled $280 million to raise teacher salaries across the board, and provide a 7 percent increase for “all school personnel.” The committee endorsed the 7 percent pay boost, but cut the amount for teacher base salaries.

PED had requested base salaries for starting teachers to rise to $50,000, for “Level 2” teachers to $60,000, and for the most experienced teachers to $70,000. LFC countered with $48,500, $57,500, and $67,500, respectively.

That reduction brought the PED $280 million request to $212 million in the LFC proposal.

Even at those lower amounts, this would vault New Mexico starting and average teacher salaries ahead of neighboring states, according to information PED provided during a December LFC budget hearing.

The LFC proposal adds $78 million to the state’s Extended Learning Time program, money the PED had not requested. Those funds would “require statewide participation” in the program, which adds 10 days of instructional time to the school year.

In total, the LFC proposed a Public Education Department budget of $3.867 billion, a 12.2 increase over the 2021 operating budget of $3.445 billion. The department had asked for $3.872 billion, a 12.4 percent increase.