A new proposal in New Mexico could raise starting salaries for teachers by up to $50,000 and aims to encourage teachers to move to the state and fill vacancies.
New Mexico Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham is backing the proposal, which could result in a $9,000 increase from the current starting salary. She announced the proposal Friday during a call with teachers, saying teachers of three levels of experience would be “the highest-paid individuals in any state near New Mexico.”
Currently, New Mexico salaries are related to levels based on how long it takes teachers to meet certain benchmarks.
Although New Mexico does not have performance incentives, teachers are currently able to earn an additional 10 to 25 days of pay at their pay level if their district adds extra class time throughout the school year. Thus, the salary of teachers in the proposed system will become more competitive between both new and existing teachers.
Wage hikes can increase the wages of minimum teachers by up to 20 percent. Mid-level teachers can see $60,000 and those with the highest level of professional development can see $70,000.
In addition, Lujan Grisham also proposed expanding these minimum wages to Indigenous language and culture teachers because those teachers often do not meet educational requirements, despite doing the same work as full-time faculty.
In the event that the new proposal by Lujan Grisham is approved, New Mexico teachers will receive the same pay as Texas teachers.
Former Representative and current governor Michelle Lujan Grisham has expressed support for a new proposal that would significantly increase the starting pay for teachers in New Mexico. Furthermore, Lujan Grisham expresses support for a new proposal that would significantly increase teachers’ starting salaries in New Mexico.
“Let’s also remind ourselves that all the state legislatures around us are raising salaries too,” New Mexico Public Education Secretary Kurt Steinhaus told a legislative committee Thursday. The wage competition between states is called the “shell game”.
In Texas, years of experience are more important. In rural Colorado, teachers can make less than their neighbors in rural New Mexico, because the minimums are lower.
Lujan Grisham’s budget closely tracks with the budget proposed by the Department of Education and the Legislature’s Most Important Spending Committee. They call for an increase of about $250-300 million, including a 7 percent minimum increase for all categories of school workers, from janitors to headmasters. This will offset the inflation of around 6.8 per cent across the country.
Texas, which borders New Mexico to the east and south, has large school districts that compete for talent with mid-sized districts in New Mexico.
According to NEA data, its median starting salary is $44,582, which is equivalent to the pay increase proposed by Lujan Grisham.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.