A bill vetoed by Gov. Susana Martinez was overturned by the state Senate last week; after the House failed to do the same, the measure died.

Teachers in the Estancia Valley and East Mountains had spoken out for the bill, which would have meant that teachers would be able to use their allowed 10 sick days every year, without a negative impact on their teacher evaluations. The veto means that if a teacher uses more than three sick days, it will ding them on evaluations.

The bill had sailed through the House initially with only three votes against it. Then two Senate committees gave a thumbs up before the bill passed unanimously in that chamber.

The Senate override passed, but an override failed a few days later in the House, meaning the governor’s veto stands.

Rep. Jim Smith released the statement below after the House failed to override the veto of House Bill 241.

Smith is a former teacher, and represents the East Mountains in House District 22. He was one of three legislators who voted against passage of the bill in the House.

In her veto message, Gov. Martinez stated that she would be willing to consider changes to attendance measures as part of a comprehensive teacher evaluation system,” Smith’s statement says, continuing, “Attendance measures account for just five percent of a teacher’s overall evaluation. House Bill 241 sought to address only the attendance component in teacher evaluations, and we respect Gov. Martinez’s request to take a comprehensive view of the evaluation structure.

Teachers from every part of the state brought their concerns and ideas to us. They worked with several representatives on comprehensive evaluation reform measures this session. These teacher-led reforms would have addressed all components of the teacher evaluation by reducing the weight of the student achievement measure as well as increasing the number of days a teacher could take without being penalized on their evaluations.

These are the changes that New Mexico teachers wanted, and only such a comprehensive approach would have provided real relief for them. The unions blocked these reforms, ignoring the wishes of the people they claim to represent.

Decisions that affect our children should be made after much thought, deliberation and care. Overriding a veto is an extraordinary action, and it should be taken after all other efforts to resolve this matter have been exhausted. We are not yet at that point.

House Bill 241 has brought attention to this issue, and we are confident that we can work with Gov. Martinez on a reasonable solution that promotes excellent instruction while supporting the needs of our teachers.”