New Mexico Courts Sue Over Funding

New Mexico judges are suing after Gov. Susana Martinez vetoed their 8 percent pay increase. They are making some of the same arguments we hear from other states, especially when they express funding as a percentage of the state’s total budget – in California, for example, advocates for increased courts funding like to point out that the total courts funding is less than one percent of state spending, and at two percent they would be fully funded.

In a column for the New Mexico News Service, longtime reporter Sherry Robinson noted that “… even though the National Center for State Courts declared New Mexico judges to be the nation’s lowest paid, Martinez sees it as a fairness issue. Other state employees got only a 3 percent increase, she has said, while judges got the 5 percent increase intended for them plus the 3 percent for all state employees.”

Robinson also notes that “… I don’t remember an occasion when judges as a group went after a governor, but then this governor spends a lot of time in court. In poking her finger in the court’s eye, it seems like the governor is also saying her lawyering days are over because she’s bound for bigger things.”