For years, New Mexico lawmakers have complained incessantly about being the only “citizen legislature” that does not receive an annual salary. Legislators from the Democrat Party and the extreme “moderate” wing of the Republican Party have repeatedly whined about it.
However, these elected leaders knew full-well when running for their place in the House or Senate that their positions were intended as a mostly voluntary position, one of service to the community and one meant not for self-enrichment, but for representation to one’s community.
But some legislators have fallen out-of-touch with the idea of the citizen legislature, such as Rep. Angelica Rubio (D-Doña Ana) who claimed in 2019 while sponsoring a bill to pay legislators a salary, that the current system has people “being left out of the system.”
Recently, Sen. Bill Soules (D-Doña Ana), who has been in the New Mexico Senate since 2013, tweeted a picture of a dollar bill, writing, “#nmleg. ‘Another day another ………’. Oh wait. That’s right. The New Mexico Legislature is unpaid. The only unpaid legislature in the country.”
First-term Sen. Antoinette Sedillo Lopez (D-Bernalillo), who is already looking for a promotion to a higher office (U.S. House of Representatives), is already complaining about the Legislature not paying members a traditional salary, chiming in on Soules’ conversation, writing, “Being unpaid and part-time makes this branch of government weak.”
“Moderate” Rep. Alonzo Baldonado (R-Valencia), while defending Rep. Kelly Fajardo’s (R-Valencia) vote in favor of Democrat Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s “mini” Green New Deal, wrote, “For all of you out there that think making votes and not getting paid to do it is easy….I say you go do it.” In 2022, many conservative Republicans will do it, and hopefully, strong patriots who do not cower will run against Reps. Fajardo and Baldonado to bring true representation to the Legislature—actual servants of the people who will not complain about the job they knew full-well they were getting into.
Multiple other “moderate” Republicans and leftist Democrats have complained about the pay strucutre of New Mexico legislators.
But despite all the misinformation from ungrateful supposed “public servants,” legislators in New Mexico do get reimbursed through a daily per diem for their work, which is $184 a day and 58 cents a mile. They also get a hefty pension for their service. After ten years, it amounts to $10,824.00.
The point of New Mexico’s legislature is for it to work for New Mexicans—not the other way around. Just remember, senators and representatives in the U.S. Congress get paid hundreds of thousands of dollars per year for not doing much at all. Having regular citizens who work jobs in the time they are not in the New Mexico Legislature (usually 10-11 months each year) serving as our representatives, brings them closer to the people they are supposed to represent, and makes them more accountable to their constituents.
Let us never forget that public servants are supposed to represent us. Those who are quick to complain about the trust we have placed in them or are putting their own well-being above that of New Mexicans should not be rewarded by getting another term in any elected office, much less a seat in the New Mexico House or Senate.