Gov. Susana Martinez has found a new spot on the Web to post the names and salaries of classified state employees, after a judge ruled last month that she must remove those workers’ names from the online New Mexico Sunshine Portal.
The state began posting the names of the classified employees, along with their titles and salaries, last year. Prior to that, only the names, salaries and titles of exempt employees were posted on the website, along with the titles and salaries of classified employees.
Martinez pushed for the classified employees’ names to be posted as well, saying the information is publicly available in other spots. She argued that making the information easily available to the public is a boost to state government transparency.
But members of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 18 decried the move, saying the law authorizing the Sunshine Portal called only for the exempt employees’ names, titles and salaries to be published. The union asked Martinez to remove the classified employees’ names, and when she didn’t, its members asked a judge to force her to take them down.
Second Judicial District Court Judge Valerie Huling in July ordered Martinez to remove the classified names, which the governor did.
The information now is posted as part of the state’s main home page, at http://employees.newmexico.gov/. The database lists the same information that had been posted on the Sunshine Portal, for both exempt and classified employees.
Union attorney Shane Youtz said Huling’s ruling applies to information posted on the portal, and he will look at whether it legally would transfer to other online sites.
In any case, Youtz said the original law that set up the portal’s content remains the same.
“I think the law reflects the Legislature’s attempt to balance the interest between citizens and civil servants. If you want to know how much an Accountant 2 makes at the Public Education Department, the Legislature provided citizens with that information. But if you want to know that name of that person, the Legislature said, ‘We’re not going to put that on the website because we want to give that person a small measure of privacy.’ ”
Martinez spokesman Scott Darnell said the governor next year will push for legislation that calls for all employees’ names to be posted on the New Mexico Sunshine Portal. The website’s sponsor, Sen. Sander Rue, R-Albuquerque, worked this year on an effort to add the classified names, but that measure didn’t make it out of the Legislature. He has said he again will try to codify that change.
Union members have said the information creates hard feelings among co-workers who earn different salaries for similar work. Others have expressed concerns over security when an employee’s department is listed online for anyone to see. A handful of employees’ names have been removed because of safety concerns.
The Governor’s Office has argued that the information is public and available in other places. Anyone can get employee salary information from state government, and newmexico.watchdog.org has published the information online. Darnell said the judge’s ruling prohibited the information from being posted on the Sunshine Portal, “but it was widely acknowledged that this is public information and therefore may be displayed on another site.”
Contact Kate Nash at 986-3036 or email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter at @katenashnm.