The state House has endorsed a plan to ask voters to end New Mexico’s status as the only state without a salaried Legislature.
The Albuquerque Journal reports the plan won approval Saturday, largely along party lines with Democrats in favor. The newspaper said the plan would amend the New Mexico Constitution to establish a citizen commission that would set a salary for the state’s 112 lawmakers.
The measure will go before voters next year if the Senate agrees to the plan in the final two weeks of this year’s session that ends on March 18.
Members of the Legislature now draw per diem payments during legislative sessions and for meetings in the interim, receive mileage reimbursements and can participate in a retirement plan, but they don’t get a year-round salary. Republican Rep. James Townsend of Artesia said lawmakers are “generously gifted with a retirement package.”
The Journal said a legislator with 10 years of service could receive about $17,000 a year in retirement, according to an example calculated by the state’s pension system. Participation costs about $600 a year in member contributions.
The legislation debated Saturday wouldn’t set a particular salary, the Journal said, adding that a nine-member citizen commission would instead determine the salaries with the extra pay starting in mid-2026.