A pay increase for New Mexican teachers has been suggested as part of a plan by lawmakers to address the state's failure to provide sufficient education to its children.
Last July a judge ruled that New Mexico's school finance system was unconstitutional and failed to provide enough funds to public schools. According to the state constitution, the government is required to provide a “uniform system of free public schools sufficient for the education” to the state's children. The ruling gave an April 15, 2019, deadline for the governor and Legislature to establish a system that meets constitutional requirements.
In response to the decision, two legislative committees have been developing a plan. Last week, according to the Albuquerque Journal, the New Mexico School Boards Association held a panel discussion to identify which of the school system's trouble areas need to be addressed. While the panel of experts chose different areas to focus on, all agreed that teacher salaries must be substantially increased to attract and retain quality educators.
Lead counsel at New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty Gail Evans proposed raising teachers' pay by nearly $10,000 a year. State Sen. Mimi Stewart told those gathered that the Legislative Finance Committee was working with the Legislative Education Study Committee to draft a plan ahead of the April 15 deadline.
NMED: Air Force Contaminated Groundwater
The New Mexico Environment Department issued a notice of violation to the US Air Force for violating state water laws by contaminating groundwater around a base near Clovis.
The Air Force Times reports chemicals once used in firefighting foam were detected in the groundwater near Cannon Air Force Base in eastern New Mexico. Environment Department officials are calling for testing to determine the size of the plume. According to the New Mexico Political Report, the US Department of Defense announced earlier this year that groundwater at 126 military bases had been contaminated by the use of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS's), which are toxic to humans.
NMED says it requires immediate action by the Air Force. It has threatened legal action if the notice of violation is ignored.
ABQ Rape Kit Backlog Sees Progress
Last week Albuquerque Mayor Tim Keller announced that nearly half of the city's massive backlog of untested rape kits have been processed since last year.
According to KRQE, the City of Albuquerque had only submitted 170 of more than 5,000 untested rape kits in 2017. Mayor Keller signed an executive order demanding the Albuquerque Police Department and the Sexual Assault Evidence Response Team address the situation. At a news conference last week, Keller told reporters that nearly 3,000 of the kits have been tested. Officials hope to finish catching up with the untested kits by 2020.
The State Crime Lab announced last week that it had finally cleared its backlog of around 1,300 untested rape kits.