Morning Word: Gov wants pay hike for new teachers, merit pay
And the rest of New Mexico's news...
December 12, 2013, 8:00 am
- Gov. Susana Martinez wants to raise starting teacher salaries and institute merit pay for high-performing teachers.
"It's critical that we raise the starting salaries of New Mexico teachers and, when they're successful in helping our students realize their academic potential, reward their success in a substantial way," said Martinez.
The proposal would raise minimum pay for new teachers, known as Level One teachers, from $30,000 per year to $33,000 per year.
- A report from the Legislative Finance Committee was highly critical of the state Human Services Department over the behavioral health audit.
In addition to knocking the department’s handling of a situation in which Medicaid funding was suspended for the state’s major behavioral health providers in the wake of an ongoing fraud investigation, the report took shots at OptumHealth, the company that oversees the managed-care program for behavioral health.
Although representatives of OptumHealth — which has been paid more than $135 million in fees by the state over the past three years — had been invited to the hearing, none showed, which angered some lawmakers.
- Sen. Tim Keller, D-Albuquerque, will present his bill allowing parents of students in public schools to opt out of standardized testing.
“In the last few months, I have received hundreds of complaints about over-testing from teachers, parents, students, principals, and concerned New Mexican Democrats and Republicans," Keller said in a statement. "These complaints also stress deep objection to the continuing trend of out-of-state, for-profit testing companies’ intrusion into the classroom.”
- I know that we haven't been doing the Weekly Word in a few months -- but don't fear, our annual Patron Awards will be back. Look for the Patron Awards podcast, with Joey Peters, Justin Horwath and myself, to pop up with the best in New Mexico News and Politics before the end of the year.
- Sen. Martin Heinrich signaled support for a budget deal reached in the U.S. House.
- The Farmington Daily-Times looks at the reaction of local officials and leaders.
- Almost 1,000 New Mexicans had enrolled in health care through healthcare.gov as of the end of November.
As of Nov. 30, 934 state residents had bought policies through the federal exchange, up from 172 as of Nov. 2, according to HHS figures.
At November’s end, 16,289 New Mexicans had applied for coverage on the federal exchange, and 8,539 had completed the applications. Of the people who had applied for coverage, 9,058 are eligible to enroll in an exchange plan, HHS said.
- KUNM's Call-In Show should draw a lot of interest this week. Today's show will talk about finding common ground on guns.
- Reps. Ben Ray Lujan and Michelle Lujan Grisham want emergency unemployment insurance to be extended while there are so many still unable to find jobs.
- The Santa Fe New Mexican looks at the options to save the lottery scholarship.
Will New Mexico college students have to maintain higher grades and take more classes to get lottery scholarships? Will students from wealthier families be excluded from the popular program? Will the scholarships no longer cover full tuition?
These are among the possible options discussed Tuesday by the Legislative Finance Committee to shore up the Legislative Lottery Scholarship, which falls several million dollars short of demand.
- Some legislators don't want to use taxpayer money to save the lottery scholarship which many New Mexicans use to go to college.
Will that send taxpayers down a slippery slope?
“That’s my opposition,” Rep. Jim White, R-Albuquerque told New Mexico Watchdog on Wednesday. “Once we make the exception once and have taxpayer money used this way, the temptation will be, let’s do it again.”
- Rising temperatures are affecting our water supply. The Albuquerque Journal:
While the study is primarily focused on future conditions, water managers already have seen changes over the course of the drought that has lingered since the late 1990s, such as warmer temperatures leaving little low-elevation winter snow. “We’re already starting to see a shift,” said Mike Hamman, manager of the Bureau of Reclamation’s Albuquerque office, which operates a number of dams on the Rio Grande.
The assessment is the latest and most detailed in a series of analyses that have all come to the same conclusion: that rising greenhouse gases, which are driving up temperatures and changing the region’s climate in other ways, are likely to cause substantial reductions in the region’s already skimpy water supplies.
- The Rio Rancho Observer looks at what legislators say will be on tap for the election. Water, schools and the budget will be big topics.
- Navajo Nation councilors failed to pass a bond question.
- Rep. Mimi Stewart, D-Albuquerque, says fights over education funding is detrimental to students.
- Former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson launched his own Super PAC.
- The State Land Office saw a boom in royalty money largely thanks to oil and gas royalties.
- A Mescalero woman pleaded guilty to embezzling $8,700 from the Bureau of Indian Affairs' Mescalero Social Services program.
- The Santa Fe Reporter looks at if thinning forests near Santa Fe will help prevent large forest fires.
- It's the end of an era as a billionaire hedge fund owner conservationist is buying Taos Ski Valley.
- Albuquerque Police Department blocked a critic on Twitter. I'm glad that every time I block someone it doesn't make the news.
- Los Alamos Police Department paid out a $600,000 settlement to a detective after he was locked up in a mental hospital and given drugs -- despite nothing being wrong with him. The settlement denies any fault or wrongdoing.