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Citizen action and citizen engagement is needed to reach consensus and advance the common good on everyday issues like access to education and health care, a healthy environment, and a strong economy.
One of the most important forms of citizen action and engagement is happening right now in the Roundhouse, where our local elected representatives gather every year to agree on how to budget billions in state funding and to tackle the most critical issues facing our families and communities.
Despite this responsibility, the New Mexico legislature remains a part-time, volunteer institution. The New Mexico legislature gathers for only a short period-one of the shortest in the country. New Mexico legislators do not get paid a salary for their work-the only state that does not pay its legislators a salary.
The lack of pay creates a barrier to broad and inclusive participation in the legislature. Our legislature in New Mexico should be reflective and representative of all people in our state, but few can afford to work without pay. Longer sessions will allow legislators to address the year-round needs of their communities, to understand and consider the pros and cons of legislation and engage in meaningful debate of the issues. The short sessions are rushed, inefficient and prone to influence from special interests.
Join me in supporting a constitutional amendment to pay our state legislators a salary and lengthen the legislative session. Let’s build a representative government that works better for all of us.
Ronald and Violet Cauthon