1% raise means little to state workers

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Posted: Wednesday, March 13, 2013 7:00 pm | Updated: 12:42 pm, Thu Mar 21, 2013.

Museum custodian Sharon Christ would love to tell state lawmakers and Gov. Susana Martinez to take their proposed 8 cent-an-hour raise and shove it.

But the Albuquerque woman, who is paid $8.32 an hour by the state Department of Cultural Affairs, really needs the money. The New Mexico Museum of Natural History and Science worker has been a state employee six years and has received just one pay increase — when she was taken off her initial probation period. And most years, due to insurance and pension increases, her take-home pay — about $490 every two weeks — has gone down.

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  • Sabine Strohem posted at 9:34 pm on Tue, Mar 19, 2013.

    Sabine_Strohem Posts: 118

    Bemoaning state employees (and teachers) a much needed raise is so misguided. So short sighted, and so spiteful.

  • 15 for stste employees posted at 3:32 pm on Tue, Mar 19, 2013.

    15 for stste employees Posts: 2

    You go GovernorMartinez having great time with the pope. Who paid for this trip oops!

  • 15 for stste employees posted at 3:29 pm on Tue, Mar 19, 2013.

    15 for stste employees Posts: 2

    Well sorry for being a state employee, some of us are under payed and have not gotten a raise for years i was with one agency for eight year making 9.60 move to another agencies to make a little more close to 13.00 hour. Still with what they take out i come home with 709.00 every two week. I have to make mortgage payment which by the time i pay monthly bills i have no spending money and i don not live beyond my means, I don't have a cell phone just a basic land line. The Governor is not looking a the ones that are not making it, I am already 62 plan to work only few more years to retire with 19 years and hopefully collect my Social security, She need to take a look at the little people. And help us. Yes i' am happy that I do have a job

  • Jack Burrton posted at 10:11 am on Tue, Mar 19, 2013.

    Jack Burrton Posts: 3

    Shouldnt they be happy to have jobs??

  • FrankLee posted at 9:10 am on Tue, Mar 19, 2013.

    FrankLee Posts: 1

    WOW, state employees complain about their wages! At least they're able to work! For the millions of others around the nation. We New Mexico have the highest federal, state, city; official government employees! MOST, something like almost 3 times the national average, or the other 49 states!

    Let's see, back in the 1980's while I was working as a professional cook/chef; etc. I was making 10.25! Today, the wages aren't even close. Then someone told me the other day, the economy is fine! When leaders believe the economy is fine, we are standing on the curb, and they are in the gutter, blowing sunshine up our skirts! Don't believe them, when 30 years ago a cook can get paid more then he would today! And, to top that off, immigrants take those jobs faster than any american could, but, the economy is fine!

    Whatever, thats why sales of weapons and ammo is out of stock! The reality folks is that when you're hungry, the human will do almost anything to eat! This is why people are arming themselves, to protect the food they may have to feed their families with! Not just shoot hungry, homeless people! Zombies would have first choice of food; the homeless and hungry! Geeze.

  • Brian Woods posted at 3:42 am on Tue, Mar 19, 2013.

    Brian Woods Posts: 7

    Rather than veto the inadequate COLA of 1%, like she did of the 0.5% last year, I bet the Gov. will sign off 'cause she got the tax breaks for the corportaions she wanted, yet another failed policy that will see the further imploding of the state economy. With the 12% Federal Government contribution to the NM economy shrinking, revenues shrinking for lack of consumers, the Gov is at risk of failing to stuffing the reserve funds enough to look the saint when returning excess reserves in time for the elections. She was hoping for $50-100 each would win her re-election, but, oh-well, the economy tanked again.

  • Brian Woods posted at 3:28 am on Tue, Mar 19, 2013.

    Brian Woods Posts: 7

    There are several interesting things to observe about this "story", but most interesting is the fact that the SFNM ran it after the session, not before, not when there may have been useful information to the public and, on the off hand chance a legislator actually cared and read, that drawing attention to the problem of underpaying then stiffing the workers for more of the bill is one major reason the state's economy is faltering, dead last in the nation in functioning. It is reflective of the parsing out of information leading us to the Iraq war, the good information comes after the fact, after the policies have been made, the damage done and the media can parade as telling the "true story." This is placation, comercial propaganda. We've been played for fools.

  • Alfred Padilla posted at 6:22 pm on Sun, Mar 17, 2013.

    Xenoace32 Posts: 341

    So when are state employees going to start receiving IOU’s. The Govment needs the money to re-furnish their offices. Get new cars, go on nice expensive trips, you know the drill. The rest get the leftover scraps as some kind of gesture of goodwill. That gesture is harder than any slap N the face. That 1% feels like a solid swift kick to the gonads so you are down long enough for them to yank the knife from your back!

  • Lou Mead posted at 8:02 pm on Sat, Mar 16, 2013.

    Lou Mead Posts: 5

    As a retiree of the state, I stayed in NM and worked for wages far less than what I could have made in another state. I also made contributions that were more than I would have in other places. This so we could live close to family. For my chosen occupation, our family made sacrifices. At one point, we could have qualified for public assistance. I was also only allowed to retire at 80% of salary, when, coupled with no wage increase for a number of years, made it undesirable to work beyond the maximum. In exchange, I was promised a lifelong retirement with a 3% cola raise, which would help offset some of the "low wage" syndrome we experienced. To tell me now that I need to share in a sacrifice because the pension people mismanaged the funds and didn't prepare for the future correctly is disingenous. If you go back and read previous works of the pera people, they have flipflopped and changed their tune on the numbers and the fund condition on a regular basis. I for one will be in line for the lawsuit if the pension bill is signed. It is not because I am greedy, nor is it that mometarily it will affect me a whole lot. It is principle. If they take a little now, next year they will want more. Fix the damn thing going forward like you should have done already and quit blaming and trying to punish people who have fulfilled their terms.

  • Jupiter675 posted at 2:41 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Jupiter675 Posts: 1

    No wonder people are leaving the state. NO JOBS, NO MONEY, NOTHING TO DO, ALL POLITICAL. It's who you know that gets you a job. NM has never had a politician that is worth a darn.

  • Jorge Negrete posted at 1:54 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Jorge Negrete Posts: 14

    Term limits would go a long way towards reducing corruption. On the other hand there are many people without a job now. They are lucky to be employed.

  • Jeremy Bangs posted at 1:04 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    JDB Posts: 15

    Perhaps those of you who are mentioned that it is the responsibility of the individual to move to a higher paying job. Well unfortunately in New Mexico, the highest paying jobs that provide the most benefits are government jobs at either the federal or state level. So yes, if it is up to the individual to move elsewhere for higher pay, then let me ask you this. Are you willing to continue the cycle of educating our young people for free (New Mexico Lottery Scolarship) and then not provide any incentive for that individual to stay in New Mexico and have the public sector receive a benefit back from providing that education?? If the government continues to balance every budget shortfall on the backs of their employees, this problem is only going to get worse.

  • erikhawkes posted at 12:37 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    erikhawkes Posts: 27

    cost of living

  • erikhawkes posted at 12:36 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    erikhawkes Posts: 27

    cost of living

  • Alfred Padilla posted at 12:26 pm on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Xenoace32 Posts: 341

    Maybe the 1 percenters can give up 5% of their wages so the lower 99% get a decent raise. Hows that?

  • Patricio R. Downs posted at 11:42 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Patricio Downs Posts: 41

    Most local news sources are bad at reporting which bill they're referring to. If it's this one (http://www.nmlegis.gov/Sessions/13%20Regular/bills/senate/SB0027.html), then most current State workers won't see an additional hit on their checks; the 8.92% contribution rate will simply continue rather than "sunsetting" -- or returning to the previous rate of 7.42% -- as was planned years ago during the budget crisis.

    That doesn't mean that it's any easier to take though. For someone like me who has been with the State a number of years, not having any sort of COLA for the past 5 years has meant having to take on part-time work on the side to make ends meet, when previously this job alone would pay all my bills. I'm not complaining -- at least I have a job -- but at the same time gas and groceries ain't getting cheaper!

  • DebFickling posted at 9:57 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    DebFickling Posts: 1

    She can have my 1% - she needs it more than I do.

  • Steven posted at 8:35 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Steven Posts: 3

    To respond to the last comment. Yes , we do have a problem and it is all at the roundhouse. We have all these politicians who watch each others backs. Plain and simple. I'm a teacher and have been for the past 20 years and do you suggest that I give up my career to find a better paying job, because the reality is that teachers have not had a real pay increase in so many years. Our retirement pensions are in jeopardy, the lack of respect given to teachers and the pressures of having to teach to "the test." I guess I could start thinking of my job as low paying and demeaning, but good luck bringing just anyone to take over. Let's see what happens when our schools fall apart because the state of NM treats us as just state employees. Vote, vote and vote some more until they get the message.

  • GP Herbert posted at 8:29 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    GP Herbert Posts: 46

    Ms. Griego is giving 28% of her monthly check for government use and retirement and bemoans the 1% raise. Maybe the government take of her paycheck ought to be examined.

  • MartinFlores505 posted at 7:36 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    MartinFlores505 Posts: 41

    Yes, if she needs more money she should make it happen... but the issue here is how state workers are getting poled by our politicians and there is nothing we can do about it. YOU VOTED FOR HIM! would be the next argument... but no matter which politician in is office its in their best interest to only care about their best interests.

  • MartinFlores505 posted at 7:35 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    MartinFlores505 Posts: 41

    Classic "If you don't like it then leave" argument.

    The problem here is raises are crappy with the state and they ought not to be. The point here is that an museum worker ought to make more than a burger flipper.

    Yes, if she needs more money she should make it happen... but the issue here is how state workers are getting poled by our politicians and there is nothing we can do about it. YOU VOTED FOR HIM! would be the next argument... but no matter which politician in is office its in their best interest to only care about their best interests.

  • Don Walk posted at 7:12 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    donw Posts: 3

    Problems, problems, problems! The only real answer for the above employees is for them to move on to the better paying jobs elsewhere and let those who are currently unemployed, take over their low paying, demeaning positions.

  • WartyBliggens posted at 5:27 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    WartyBliggens Posts: 8

    The war on public employees is part of the plan by the rich to hold on to their "sequestration" of 90% of the wealth of the nation by choking salaries, liquidating or cutting retirements, and resisting all efforts to increase revenues. They and their purchased politicians do not want to see any outflow from their wealth, so hence the war on public employees, teachers, or anything that might drain the fisc. Thereby reaffirming New Mexico's commitment to remain competetive with the State of Mississippi. Everyone has had the chance to vote out politicians remaining uncommitted to government by the people for the people, and it doesn't get thanks to the effectiveness of myths about taxes and corporate welfare. It won't stop without massive voting out, term limits, and politicians constantly reminded of whom they are elected to serve.

  • Garrett M. Walker posted at 4:40 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Garrett Posts: 4

    In case you missed it...YOUR LIFE = YOUR RESPONSIBILITY to make what you need to live on and support your family. If a job with the State pays $8.32/hr that is because it is only WORTH $8.32/hr. If Sharon Christ can make more at McDonalds or any other job, she has the right to move on down the road to that better paying job.

    Same principle applies to Gabrielle Griego....If you think you are worth more then you owe it to yourself to take whatever steps are necessary to make it to the next "rung of the ladder"

    Where there is a will, there is a way....It's just sad that most people would rather complain about where they are in life than to actively work towards improving their lives....

  • Amy Johnson posted at 2:44 am on Thu, Mar 14, 2013.

    Amy Johnson Posts: 1

    Is this Varela guy for real? He just co-authored a bill to take an additional 1.5% from state workers, diminish the COLA for retirees who already earned it, strip other retirees of their COLA and now he is concerned that state workers might be getting screwed? A 1% raiise does not even offset the payroll tax increase we saw January 1, or the new 1.5% increase to PERA. He keeps saying the PERA bill is not a perfect bill. Well, get back in a special session and make a perfect bill. He also said that the legislature has the power to take property rights by making the changes to people's retirements.. This legislative session has been a joke. But the legislators damn sure took care of themselves with a retirement of their own and hopes to keep their communications from the public. You cannot be part of a pension on one hand, then claim to not be a public employee subject to IPRA. Come on people, quit being sheep. These people you elected to serve you are only working in their own best interests.


Key issues facing lawmakers


Backdrop: New Mexico gained only 1,700 jobs during the past year ending in November. That's a growth rate of 0.2 percent and the lowest in the region. New Mexcio's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in November compared with 6.7 percent a year earlier.

Proposals: Gov. Susana Martinez proposed expanding programs that can help bring nurses, dentists and other medical providers to rural areas. She also wants to provide $7.5 million for an endowment fund to attract top porfessors and researchers at colleges and universities. The governor recommends broadening tax incentivies to encourage startup companies as well as research and development. Democrats are pushing to increase the stat's minimum wage, which has been $7.50 an hour since 2009. Some lawmakers want automatic cost-of-living increases in the wage rate.


Backdrop: The current state budget is $5.9 billion, and revenues are expected to reach nearly $6.2 billion in the fiscal year starting in July. That provides about $239 million in "new money" for lawmakers and the governor for budget increases and to offset tax cuts. The state has cash reserves of more than $500 million, but that could shrink because of accounting discrepancies stretching back more than six years.

Proposals: Martinez has recommended a 3 percent budget increase compared with about 4 percent proposed by the Legislative Finance Committee. Martinez proposes targeted increases for hard-to-fill jobs such as state police. But the legislative panel advocates across-the-board raises for all state agency workers and educators, with higher amounts for those in certain jobs, including judges, state police and social workers.


Backdrop: About $600 million in bond financing is available for capital improvement projects. Some of that goes for specific purposes, including public schools and projects on tribal lands. However, much of the financing will be divvied up for new projects. 

Proposals: Martinez proposes earmarking about $112 million in bond proceeds for water projects across the state. The governor also recommends creatinga  new fund that can provide emergency assistance to communities with drinking water problems. The Legislative Finance Committee has recommended $10 million in bond financing for highway maintenance and $6 million for a road to the state's spaceport.


Backdrop: Public schools, colleges and universities get nearly $3 out of every $5 in the operating budget. The high school graduation rate was 70 percent in the last school year, and nearly half of graduates enrolling in state colleges in 2011 and 2012 required remedial courses.

Proposals: Martinez will renew a proposal to require schools to hold back third-graders who can't read proficiently. Some Democrats and a coalition of social advocacy groups want to earmark part of the yearly payout from a state permanent fund to provide more money for early-childhood education. Lawmakers also will consider ways to shore up a lottery-financed college scholarship program. Some proposals would change the program to make the aid need-based and provide a flat dollar amount for scholarships. 

The Associated Press

Session dates - 2014

• December 16, 2013 - January 17 Legislation may be prefiled

• January 21 Opening day (noon)

• February 5 Deadline for introduction

• February 20 Session ends (noon)

• March 12 Legislation not acted upon by governor is pocket vetoed

• May 21 Effective date of legislation not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date

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