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Thu February 20, 2014
Progress Now: Failures In The New Mexico Legislature
Going into the 2014 legislative session almost everyone agreed that we needed some big solutions to get New Mexico off the bottom of some of the worst lists for kids, workers and families.
But only half our legislators showed up to work. All together, House Republicans were absent 528 times when votes were cast on the House floor alone. Working families never had a chance.
New Mexico leads the country in income inequality – the top 20% of earners make 10 times what the bottom 20% make – so progressives like Sen. Bill Soules andRep. Miguel Garcia proposed a Constitutional amendment to raise the minimum wage and ensure it always keeps up with the rising cost of living.
Not one Republican – not one – showed up to a committee vote to even hear from workers who need the help.
When it finally came down to a vote, five conservative members in the House simply walked out and refused to vote, killing the bill and ensuring that more than 84,000 minimum wage workers and 95,000 children who count on them fall farther behind. [Read the story here]
Since Governor Martinez took office, New Mexico has lost more than 3,000 education jobs and for-profit testing companies are making more money than ever before.
So progressives like Rep. Mimi Stewart proposed bills to invest more money in local districts to lower class sizes and raise every teacher’s salary by just 3%. More than 2,000 educators and parents rallied in Santa Fe against more testing and for smaller classes, but that didn't move conservatives.
Once again, every Republican collected their per diem pay but walked away from the hearing without so much as a debate.
And they didn’t just stand in the way of new investments to move us forward. They actively voted to take us back.
Next year, New Mexico’s public schools will lose $70 million in permanent fund funding without action from the legislature and voters. So, Speaker Ken Martinez and Senator Tim Kellerworked up a bill to keep that funding going without raising taxes.
While saying they wanted more money for education, 36 conservatives voted against that bill killing it in the last days of the session.
New Mexico needs big solutions and this session saw lots of them from progressives. And while every legislator took home per diem pay for a full session of work, only ½ of them actually showed up to work.
They walked out of committees and ran away from votes on the floor - 500+ times. That's more than 2.5 times more than their more progressive counterparts.
Conservatives weren't at work, but we were. During the legislative session, our legislative posts were read more than 19,400 times and our Facebook and Twitter followers grew past 5,700. Help from our grassroots supporters helped us out ALEC bills and kill two of them - a first for New Mexico!
These members can't get a free pass for skipping out on their job.