- Associated Press - Thursday, August 20, 2015

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) - The Board of Education has approved a policy that will allow Albuquerque Public Schools employees who are state lawmakers to receive paid “political leave” while they work in the Legislature.

The plan approved Wednesday comes after years of debate over the merits of such pay.

Board member Barbara Petersen told the Albuquerque Journal (https://bit.ly/1JsKxCc) the new policy could inspire more APS employees to become lawmakers, which would serve as a benefit to school districts.

“When there are laws passed having to do with criminal justice, I want people who are involved in that field to be part of the discussion,” she said. “When medical laws are passed, I want people who are knowledgeable in that area thinking and looking at the legislation. . Similarly with education.”

But board member Peggy Muller-Aragon, who was the only member to vote in opposition of the plan, said she finds it “difficult to believe that anyone who serves in the Legislature can serve two masters.”

“I am sure you saw in the paper that the highest court in New Mexico, the Supreme Court, upheld a city ordinance that said city employees cannot serve in the Legislature and neither can state employees,” Muller-Aragon said.

The board got rid of paid political leave in May 2012 after reports surfaced about Democratic Representative of Albuquerque Sheryl Williams Stapleton’s salary, which she drew as APS’ coordinator of vocational education.

Another concern about paid political leave involves the state Constitution’s anti-donation clause, which says public entities can’t make private donations to individuals or companies.


Information from: Albuquerque Journal, https://www.abqjournal.com

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