DALLAS — New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez signed a $6.15 billion budget into law March 11.

At a separate event, Martinez also signed a bill providing $89 million of bonding authority for critical water projects in the drought-stricken state.

The new budget represents a 4.3% increase in spending over the current fiscal year ending June 30. Education spending increases by 5.75% to a record high of $2.7 billion.

"Over the past three years, we have worked in a bipartisan way to restore our state's firm fiscal footing after years of over-spending, and the budgets we have passed have enacted moderate, responsible spending growth," Martinez said in a signing ceremony in Rio Rancho. "Along the way, we have invested heavily in public education and early childhood programs, expanded job creation efforts, and provided for a strong safety net to help the most vulnerable."

The budget also provides funds to increase the numbers of health care workers in a state where 32 of the state's 33 counties are classified by the federal government as health professional shortage areas.

Full implementation of the state's Medicaid expansion could add as many as 205,000 new patients statewide. Funding includes $1.5 million to increase the number of nurse practitioners at UNM, $726,000 to increase the number of health care professionals in health shortage areas, and $905,000 to expand primary care residency slots at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

The budget also allocates funds to recruit new businesses to the state and to diversify its economy, Martinez said.

"We've made important strides in the past three years to improve New Mexico's ability to compete with our surrounding states for jobs - an effort that is absolutely vital if we are to reduce our reliance on a dysfunctional federal government and diversify our economy to grow the private sector," Martinez said.

Spending on public schools in New Mexico will increase by $147.7 million, a 5.75% increase over the current fiscal year.

Under the new budget, teachers will receive a 3% pay raise, and the minimum starting salary for teachers in New Mexico will rise from $30,000 to $32,000 - a 6.7% increase.


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