AP NEWS

The Latest: New Mexico House seeks salaries for legislators

March 6, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on activity in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

4:30 p.m.

A proposal to provide salaries to state legislators for the first time has been endorsed by the New Mexico House of Representatives.

The 44-24 vote of the House on Wednesday advances the measure to the Senate for consideration. The proposed constitutional amendment from Democratic Reps. Bobby Gonzales of Taos and Angelica Rubio of Las Cruces would do away with the prohibition on legislative compensation and create a commission to set salaries. Senate approval would send the measure to a statewide vote.

Rubio and other proponents of professionalizing the legislature say the current system has excluded people who can’t afford to take time away from paid work.

Lawmakers currently get a daily allowance for expenses, mileage reimbursements and access to retirement benefits in some instances.

___

4:10 p.m.

The nation’s only unsalaried legislature is reconsidering its volunteer work ethic.

The New Mexico House of Representatives on Wednesday debated a constitutional amendment that would provide salaries to state legislators. Legislative approval would send the matter to a statewide vote.

New Mexico is the only state in the nation where lawmakers receive no salary for their work, though taxpayers foot the bill for travel expenses and an allowance for meals and lodging. Many lawmakers also have access to public pension benefits.

The proposal would repeal the salary prohibition and establish a commission to set legislative salaries. Advocates for professionalizing the Legislature say the current system discourages young, working class candidates from serving.

Opponents including Rep. Greg Nibert of Roswell praise the state’s tradition of unsalaried public service and limited government.

All contents © copyright 2019 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.