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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 3:20 p.m. MST


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico government economists are forecasting a major surge in state income as legislators consider proposals to raise pay for public school teachers and a possible hiring spree for local police officers. Also possible are new efforts to bolster essential public services amid the coronavirus pandemic. The new revenue forecast predicts a $1.6 billion surplus in state general fund income in excess of current spending obligations for the fiscal year that starts next July. The petroleum sector accounts for most of the new money. There is record-setting oil production in New Mexico but the state is struggling with high rates of unemployment and childhood poverty.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico education officials are sharing details Friday of a $200 million plan to increase teacher salaries by at least 7% next fall. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she wants teachers in her state to be the best paid in the region by raising salaries to $64,000, and on par with the national average. New Mexico's minimum teacher salaries are based on three levels of certifications, not years of experience or the cost of living in districts where they work. The Legislature is likely to back a salary increase, with increased oil revenues, and school districts flush with cash from pandemic relief money.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico will provide business loans of up to $250,00 toward small-scale cannabis businesses in an effort to provide economic opportunity to communities that were hit hard by past criminal enforcement of marijuana laws. The Regulation and Licensing Department on Thursday announced that the loan program is moving forward. The New Mexico Finance Authority is planning for a $5 million line of credit for cannabis entrepreneurs, with average loan size of about $100,000. The application process is expected to open in February. Loans would be available to qualified cannabis "microbusinesses" that are licensed to cultivate and sell marijuana from up to 200 plants.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — James Lujan resigned as Rio Arriba County sheriff after being sentenced to prison on felony convictions of aiding a felon and intimidating a witness in 2017. Lujan submitted his resignation Thursday after being sentenced to a three-year prison term one day after state District Court jurors convicted him following a three-day trial. A judge denied a request by Lujan's attorney that his client remain free pending an appeal, and the 60-year-old Lujan was taken into custody by Santa Fe County sheriff's deputies. Lujan was convicted on charges stemming from allegations he helped former Española City Councilor Philip Chacon evade police following a high-speed chase.   


WINDOW ROCK, Ariz. (AP) — The Navajo Nation on Thursday reported 142 more COVID-19 cases and one additional death. The latest daily virus figures brought the tribe's totals to 39,768 cases and 1,547 known deaths since the pandemic began. Based on cases from Nov. 12-25, the Navajo Department of Health on Monday issued an advisory for 65 communities due to uncontrolled spread of COVID-19. Tribal President Jonathan Nez has again called for everyone on the vast reservation to get fully vaccinated or get a booster shot and wear masks. The reservation covers 27,000 square miles (70,000 square kilometers) and extends into parts of Arizona, New Mexico and Utah.


HENDERSON, Nev. (AP) — Police in southern Nevada say they've identified a 17-year-old New Mexico girl as the victim of a killing 41 years ago. They call her case now an active murder investigation. Henderson police say the teen, Tammy Terrell, was last seen with a man and a woman at a restaurant after a state fair in Roswell, New Mexico, in September 1980. Her body was found one week later in a desert area outside Las Vegas. Reports said she was stabbed and beaten to death, possibly with a hammer. With her name unknown, she was dubbed "Arroyo Grande Jane Doe," after the place where she was found.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Proposed political boundaries are being redrawn by a Democrat-led legislature in a sparsely populated state where Hispanics and Native Americans account for six in 10 residents. The outcome sets the course for a congressional swing district that borders Mexico, Texas and Arizona. Democrats and Republicans in legislatures nationwide have been using the redistricting process to try to increase their party's edge in the narrowly divided Congress. New Mexico is among several states including Indiana that used a citizens advisory board to temper political inclinations without taking redistricting powers away from state lawmakers.


SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Rio Arriba County Sheriff James Lujan was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday after being convicted on two felony counts of aiding a felon and intimidating a witness in 2017. Jurors in 1st Judicial District Court deliberated only about five hours before reaching the verdicts Wednesday. Prosecutors said the 60-year-old Lujan faced a prison term of up to 4 ½ years. Lujan's attorney asked the judge if his client could remain free pending an appeal.  The judge denied the request and had Lujan taken into custody by Santa Fe County sheriff's deputies. The verdict came after a three-day trial for Lujan, which was his second on the charges that stem from allegations he helped former Española City Councilor Philip Chacon evade police following a high-speed chase.