AFT-NM: No Education Cuts of Any Kind

AFT-NM president Christine Trujillo had tears in her eyes outside the Senate gallery Thursday as she talked about possible cuts to education.

The State Legislature has threatened to slash education funding since convening a special session since Saturday in an attempt to close a $650 million budget gap.

“I’m trying to keep my chin up,” said Trujillo in an interview at the Roundhouse.  “We’ve had six days of purported negotiations and the latest plan on the table would cut 2.2 percent in above the line (the operational budget), 6.5 percent in programmatic cuts and 4 percent for higher education. And that’s on top of the 9 percent cut they’ve already forced us to take.”

“As AFT, we stand for no cuts of any kind.”

Trujillo said she is angry at the legislators who are advocating for education cuts.

“I am so angry and hurt that these people who have the power will not do the right thing for kids,” she said. “They are ignoring the information from economists that show we have ways to raise revenue and they are ignoring the information from our poll that shows the people of New Mexico are willing to pay more to fund education.”

The issue of germaneness (germanity?) has been a confusing and irritating distraction, said Trujillo.

Legislators are not allowed to consider bills that are not considered germane to Governor Bill Richardson’s proclamation calling for a special session. Many legislators have interpreted Richardson’s proclamation as being prohibitive of raising taxes or generating revenues.

That’s not the way Trujillo sees it.

“I think the legislators have a lot of elasticity in their definition of what germaneness is,” she said.

Ultimately, Trujillo said Gov. Bill Richardson bears a very, very strong responsibility for the gridlock.

“When he chose to issue a proclamation that limits the other bodies from making wise decisions for his constituents, then he does bear responsibility,” she said.

The legislature continued to meet Thursday and will continue until they reach a consensus on the budget.