Hampton: State Budget Shortfall

img_8199 (1)David Hampton/Photo by Maire O’Neill/losalamosreporter.com

Republican Candidate for
District 43 State Representative

At this months’s special session of the New Mexico State Legislature, hard decisions will have to be made to address our expected budget shortfall, which could exceed $2 billion.  This follows on the heels of a 21% increase in the state budget over the last 2 years.  The $1 billion in the bill passed by the House that can be accessed by New Mexico cannot be relied upon, since it is part of a much larger $3 trillion bill that includes many provisions which the Senate and the President say make it “dead on arrival.”

Public education makes up 58% of our state budget, so it is difficult to reduce our spending without reducing the public education budget.

Other things will have to be looked at.  In 2019, our governor gave all her cabinet secretaries 17% raises.  Last month, in California, their governor proposed a 10% cut in salaries for all state employees.

While I wouldn’t propose cutting teacher salaries, this year’s 6% across the board increase for all public school employees, including administrators, will have to be looked at.

We also have to look at how we manage our schools.  In the past, our state board of education was a management board, not an advisory board like it is now.  We could eliminate 2 cabinet secretaries and restore the board to a management board made up of elected leaders.  Alternatives to government schools should also be looked at.

Consider that New Mexico spends more money per student than Texas, Arizona, Utah or Colorado, yet has the worst outcomes in the country.  How much money we spend on education in New Mexico is not the problem.  How we manage it is.