The thirty-day Legislative Session ended this past Thursday and I am still amazed by the incredible foundation we just laid for working families in our state, for generations to come.
First and foremost, Senate Bill 1, which I co-sponsored, provides New Mexico with the most competitive teacher salaries in our region. Starting teachers will earn $50,000, mid-level teachers will earn $60,000, and our most experienced teachers will now earn $70,000 a year.
The Legislature also created free tuition for any New Mexico student, of any age, at any of our public, two- and four-year institutions of higher learning, as long as you work hard and maintain a GPA of 2.5 or better. Whether you are just graduating from high school or want to return to college later in life, you can attend Western New Mexico University, New Mexico Insittute of Mining and Technology, NMSU, or any other public college or university in our state for free, if you keep your GPA up. I believe this law will transform our children, our economy, and our state for decades to come.
Several other bills I sponsored or co-sponsored are awaiting the Governor's signature. The Legislature passed my bill to expand protections for children under CYFD programs; study how we can best implement a paid family medical leave program that helps employers and employees alike; and create new improvements for charter school facilities.
The Legislature passed a landmark budget bill that will fund critical improvements to roads and other infrastructure projects in Southwestern New Mexico. We finally ended the practice of exorbitant small loans, reducing the maximum interest rate from a ridiculous 175% to 36%. And we funded much needed crime prevention initiatives, adding more police with more competitive salaries, as well as more substance abuse and behavioral health programs.
I am so proud of the work we did, and I thank you for all of your questions, thoughts, and support throughout the Session. Soon we'll start the busy interim legislative process, so if you have ideas for needed legislation, you can always reach me at 575-654-0683 or SiahforSenate@gmail.com .