#NMLEG Progressive Bill of the Day | 02-19-15 & 2-20-15

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Here are some great happenings from the NM Senate over the last few days regarding a new jobs package and a bill to raise teacher salaries.

Here’s what the Senate Democrats had to say Thursday about their “Ready to Work” jobs package:

“Democratic leaders in the New Mexico Senate today announced an ambitious package of legislation that would create 73,000 new jobs and stimulate economic growth. The Democrats’ ‘Ready to Work’ Jobs Package contains more than 40 bills introduced in the current Session that address the need for more employment and economic activity in urban and rural areas of the state, across a broad range of occupations.  Democrats contrasted their legislative priorities with the Governor’s agenda of passing measures that they characterized as “symbolic”, including so-called right-to-work and other measures.

“Today we articulated our vision of the kind of actions we can take in this Legislative Session to build a better New Mexico. Our ‘Ready to Work’ Jobs Plan can reverse the low-growth course we’re on, if we have the will and the courage to enact it. We must be bold. We must be imaginative. That’s what has been missing for the last 4 years in the state’s economic policies,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29-Bernalillo & Valencia).

The emphasis of the Democratic jobs package is two-fold: prioritizing measures to make new employment opportunities available to those who have skills and are ready to work, but cannot find work; and getting those without needed skills or education (or who are entering the workforce) the training that employers seek. “Our top priority is creating jobs and getting the economy moving again in New Mexico. People are hurting in our state, and we are urgent about this. Democrats know how to create jobs. ‘Right to Work’ won’t create a single job; help one small business expand, or bring a new firm here. ‘Ready to Work’ will get people working again, and rebuild our economy,” said Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla (D-14- Albuquerque).

Democratic legislation in the package of bills announced today includes increased funding for job training (JTIP) through community colleges; $300 million worth of local roads and highway jobs paid for by a gas tax increase; a new 33 percent set-aside for New Mexico businesses in government contracts; tripling the LEDA Fund to help us compete for businesses locating from out-of-state; a substantial increase in early childhood education programs; investments in rural broadband, and many other job measures.”

And today, the Senate Education committee heard Sen. Mimi Stewart’s “Phased Minimum Teacher Salary Increase” (SB 223). Sen. Stewart’s bill would increase the minimum salaries for Level I Teachers to $40,000, Level II Teachers to $50,000 and Level III Teachers to $60,000, over five years.

The increases would be effective starting during the 2015-2016.

According to the AFT New Mexico:

This bill is important to our profession as it will help New Mexico retain and attract the best and most skilled educators to our classrooms, and give them a salary that is respectful of the effort put forth in our classrooms and schools every day.