The New Mexico Senate on Tuesday afternoon overrode Gov. Susana Martinez’s veto of a bill that would enable teachers to use more sick days without being penalized in their performance evaluation.
Martinez’s veto remains in place unless the House of Representatives also votes to override it.
The override vote in the Senate was 34-7, well above the two-thirds majority needed. All seven votes against the override were by Republicans.
Sen. Craig Brandt, R-Rio Rancho, led the override initiative against the Republican governor.
“It was extremely difficult. I don’t know that I’ve ever felt this kind of pressure,” Brandt said afterward.
He said several people asked him not to proceed with the override attempt. He would not identify them.
Brandt also said he faces retribution from Martinez.
“I doubt that I’ll have many bills signed by this governor in the next two years,” he said.
The New Mexican has asked Martinez’s administration for comment and will add it as soon as possible.
Brandt said he pushed the override as a matter of fairness.
“This was about making sure our teachers are not penalized for being sick,” he said.
Brandt also said he met four times with members of the state Public Education Department on the Martinez administration’s policy on teacher absences, including once meeting with Education Secretary Hanna Skandera. Those sessions were unproductive in getting a compromise, he said.
The measure Martinez vetoed was House Bill 241, which would have amended the evaluation system in which teachers can use three or fewer sick days in an academic year without being downgraded on their job evaluation. The bill would have allowed a teacher to take up to 10 sick days with no penalty.
The House of Representatives approved the bill 64-3, and the Senate voted for it 39-0.
Democrats control the House 38-32, but Republicans in that chamber typically have been loyal to her. That means the odds of an override in the House appear long.
Brandt said he hoped the overwhelming override vote in the Senate would prompt House members to do the same.
“We’ve completed half the journey,” he said.