Think New Mexico News:
As we head into the final five days of the session, we have a couple of exciting updates to share:
Social Security Inflation Adjuster Added to Tax Bill (HB 547)
As we explained in an email a few weeks ago, last year, after a three-year fight, Think New Mexico’s legislation was enacted to repeal the tax on Social Security income for middle and lower-income seniors: individuals with incomes under $100,000 or married couples with incomes under $150,000. However we were unable to include an inflation adjuster to increase those levels over time so that middle and lower-income seniors will continue to be shielded from this tax as inflation rises.
Sunday, the House debated its annual omnibus tax package, House Bill 547, which included an array of tax provisions. We were disappointed that initially, the bill did not include the inflation adjuster for the Social Security exemption.
However, Rep. Cathrynn Brown offered the reform as an amendment, supported by Rep. Gail Armstrong, and the amendment was unanimously accepted and added to the bill! House Bill 547 passed the House 50-18. We hope that the provision will remain in the bill as it moves through the Senate.
Funding in the Budget (HB 2)
Sunday night, the Senate passed its revisions to the state budget, and it includes funding for a number of our education reform priorities, including:
- $312 million to increase the minimum instructional hours to 1,140 for all public school students;
- $15 million to support teacher residencies, paid year-long experiences in which a beginning teacher co-teaches alongside an experienced teacher;
- $2 million to support residencies for principals and student support staff; and
- Nearly $8 million to increase salaries for principals and assistant principals, especially in high-poverty schools.
House Bill 2 also includes $7.5 million for the Strategic Water Reserve, the largest single investment in this water management tool that Think New Mexico led the effort to create nearly two decades ago. This funding will be used to buy and lease water rights to keep the state’s rivers flowing to prevent conflicts over endangered species and interstate river compacts.