HJR 7 Commission on Legislative Salaries
Reps Rubio, Garratt, and Ortez
Senators Duhigg and O’Neill
Why VMFC supports
New Mexico has 142,000 veterans, ranking us the 13th highest in the US.
The total economic impact, direct and indirect revenue, of the 4 military bases in NM is $14 billion. Defense spending (i.e. contracts, grants, and payrolls) is 3.8% of NM’s GDP, ranking NM 11th in the US. DoD spends $4.6 billion in NM, ranking NM 29th in the US.
The New Mexico legislature has only 7 veterans serving which is just over 6% of the legislators. This makes NM the second lowest in the nation with less than half the national average of over 12.24%.
Veterans have a higher propensity to continue serving once they leave or retire from the military. However, they are usually younger and need to earn a salary. A paid legislature would attract more veterans as well as other working age professionals, which would better represent the diverse population in New Mexico.
HJR 7 is an important step in modernizing the New Mexico legislature, which has the only legislators in the U.S. that do not receive salaries.
The proposed constitutional amendment:
- Creates a citizen commission on legislative salaries as an independent state agency to establish, adjust, and limit the salaries of legislators.
- It is to be composed of 9 members, not more than five from the same political party.
- The commission is tasked to review, research, and consider salaries for legislators and deliver its final report to the Secretary of State on its determination to establish, adjust or limit those salaries no later than 1 January 2026 and every 4 years thereafter.
- The salaries established, adjusted, or limited as adopted in the commission’s report shall become effective on the first full state employee pay period in July of the year of the report.
- Members of the citizen commission serve without compensation but receive per diem and mileage.
New Mexico has the last volunteer legislature in the U.S. This is a barrier to entry because many citizens cannot afford to serve instead of working a paid job. The result is skewed representation by legislators who are rich, retired, or well-resourced because they can take the time off to volunteer for a month or two a year.
Representation matters and paying legislators would broaden the field of candidates and produce a richer and more diverse legislature that better reflects New Mexico.