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Latest New Mexico news, sports, business and entertainment at 11:20 a.m. MST

  • CLIMATE CHANGE-STATE SPENDING

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) — Governors and state lawmakers are prioritizing climate change as they write their state budgets, devoting money to lowering emissions and guarding against natural disasters such as flood and fire. The spending comes as most states are flush with cash: Tax collections have exceeded expectations, and states are receiving billions of dollars in federal pandemic aid and infrastructure spending. The priorities for Democratic governors include lowering carbon emissions by boosting electric vehicles and storage for clean energy such as solar. Republicans, meanwhile, are proposing spending to address the damage from floods, drought and wildfires, though many aren't linking the spending to climate change.

  • NEW MEXICO LEGISLATURE EDUCATION

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — When New Mexico lawmakers meet on Jan. 18 to hash out the state budget, about half of the money will go to K-12 school programs. Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and key legislative committees have agreed to increase spending on schools by around 12%, or around $3.8 billion. A proposed teacher pay raise would range from 7% and 20% depending on a teacher's current pay. Nationwide inflation was 7% last year, and wages are increasing in the private sector. Schools are struggling to fill positions for teachers, teaching assistants, food workers and maintenance workers.

  • LEGISLATIVE PREVIEW-NEW MEXICO

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — High-stakes decisions on spending, voting access, public education and criminal justice await New Mexico legislators during their upcoming 30-day legislative session. Legislators will convene Tuesday. New Mexico state government has a multibillion dollar general fund surplus thanks to federal pandemic relief and a surge in oil production and natural gas prices. The state is simultaneously contending with shortages of teachers, police and nurses, a spike in urban violence and concerns about the fragile status of American democracy and the environment. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham and the Democrat-led legislature are promising to increase spending, cut tax rates and improve public health and safety.

  • ARREST

PHOENIX (AP) — A man who escaped from a Colorado jail in late December and who was sought in the subsequent non-fatal shooting of a New Mexico police officer a week ago was arrested Friday in Arizona. Farmington police said Phoenix police got a tip and arrested 22-year-old Elias Buck early Friday morning at a convenience store. Buck was sought in Farmington in the Jan. 7 wounding of Officer Joseph Barreto during a possible DWI investigation. The Durango Herald reports that Buck previously scaled a fence and escaped Dec. 27 from jail in Durango after being arrested Dec. 7 on suspicion of motor vehicle theft. 

  • INFRASTRUCTURE SPENDING-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — With billions of federal dollars heading to New Mexico for infrastructure projects, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says rural areas can't be left behind. The governor made the comment Friday during a virtual summit attended by more than 200 municipal officials from around the state. She said the goal is to ensure that administrative requirements and other bureaucratic hoops don't keep small communities from accessing the money. Local officials talked about needs that ranged from water system upgrades, road work, improved broadband connectivity and health care services. In all, officials have said New Mexico will receive $3.7 billion in federal funding. That includes more than $350 million over five years for water infrastructure projects.

  • VIRUS OUTBREAK-NEW MEXICO

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — City and state officials have decided to postpone Saturday's planned Martin Luther King Jr. march in Albuquerque because of the increasing number of COVID-19 cases. Officials said the in-person event was being postponed out of an abundance of caution. They also said a Federal Emergency Management Agency bus will still be at Civic Plaza to administer vaccines and on-site testing. In another development, the University of New Mexico starting Tuesday will require face coverings worn by students and employees to be of more protective medical or health grade. The stiffened mandate will require three-ply or better medical and health procedure masks. 

  • AP-US-EDUCATION-CYBER-ATTACK

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Around 75,000 New Mexico schoolchildren are missing school Friday for the second day after a cyber attack hit the state's largest school district on Wednesday. At least five other school districts have suffered costly cyber attacks in the past two years, according insurance officials who cover school losses. Schools in Las Cruces were digitally crippled for months after an attack in 2019. One target of the attack was the school's student information database, the same target of the attack against Albuquerque Public Schools, which was discovered on Wednesday as teachers prepared for class. But Las Cruces didn't cancel class, it moved duties like attendance to paper records.