Roundhouse Roundup: Teacher pay, outdoor learning, cigarette taxes

SANTA FE, NM (KRQE) — Salary increases for New Mexico teachers are on the table. Today, Wednesday, January 26, lawmakers will consider several pieces of education-related legislation. A few government agencies will also submit budget requests, including the Public Regulatory Commission and the New Mexico State Fair.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, teachers in New Mexico have faced countless challenges. From the bonuses promised and then canceled to Albuquerque teachers to the difficulties of distance learning, no one disputes the pandemic’s toll.

The governor’s budget recommendation for fiscal year 2023 called for an increase in teacher salaries statewide. His proposal would raise Tier 1 teachers – the lowest level of licensed teachers – to $50,000 a year, up from $41,000 previously. The proposal raises Tier 2 and Tier 3 teachers up to $60,000 and $70,000 respectively. Today, Wednesday, January 26, the Senate Education Committee will consider Senate Bill 1, which includes these salary increases.

“Right now our neighbors are paying a lot more for educators than New Mexico,” Whitney Holland, president of the New Mexico branch of the American Federation of Teachers, told KRQE News 13 earlier this year. “And our increases – although they have been substantial in recent years – so have our neighbors [raises]. So we have a hard time keeping up.

Colorado, for example, passed a bill last year to create a fund specifically to improve compensation for teachers and unlicensed school employees. Even before that, the average teacher salary in Colorado was over $57,000 a year, according to data from the National Education Association. The average teacher salary in New Mexico is around $54,000 a year, according to their data.

Lawmakers will discuss Senate Bill 1 to improve teacher salaries at a 9 a.m. meeting. The public can participate via the Zoom link. At the meeting, they will also discuss Senate Bill 32, which would fund outdoor learning programs and Senate Bill 50, which would expand college nursing programs.

Bills to support economic development

  • Today, Wednesday, January 26, the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee will meet to discuss a few bills related to New Mexico’s economy.
  • They will examine House Bill 67, which would extend the existing tax credit to help New Mexico companies incorporate technology developed at the national labs.
  • They will also consider House Memorial 9, which would create a task force to address housing availability and affordability statewide. In particular, the memorial would focus on ways to speed up the construction process.

Bill providing for an increase in the tax on cigarettes and electronic cigarettes

  • Today, Wednesday, January 26, the House Health & Human Services Committee will consider House Bill 33, which would increase the excise tax on certain tobacco products.
  • Currently, New Mexico taxes 10 cents per regular cigarette sold. The new bill would double the tax to 20 cents, bringing the tax to $2 per pack and setting New Mexico’s tax rate higher than neighboring states, according to a tax analysis by the Legislative Committee. finances.
  • Single-use pre-filled e-cigarette cartridges would also be taxed at a higher rate than before. Currently, the state levies a tax of 50 cents per cartridge. This would increase to $3.32 per cartridge.
  • Funds from taxes are currently allocated to health care related programs in the state. The bill would make certain adjustments to these distributions.

About Mark A. Tomlin

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