New Mexico state jobs program aims to hire people with developmental disabilities

New Mexico

SANTA FE, N.M. (KAMR/KCIT) – The New Mexico Developmental Disabilities Council (NMDDC) announced the Marilyn Martinez State Jobs Program to close out National Disability Employment Awareness Month. The program was made to partner with state agencies to recruit and train New Mexicans with developmental disabilities for state government jobs.

“Through the Marilyn Martinez State Jobs program, state government will lead the way in creating inclusive, highly effective workplaces in New Mexico that deeply value the many contributions people with developmental disabilities can offer,” said NMDDC Executive Director. Alice Liu McCoy. “Marilyn Martinez worked for decades to break through barriers for New Mexicans living with DD. She advocated tirelessly for many basic rights most of us take for granted—the right to live independently, marry, and earn a living. We are proud to continue Marilyn’s work in our state.”

NMDDC said it has planned to work with agencies to “identify and craft inclusive employment opportunities,” including job training, developing jobs supports, and providing help with job applications for state government positions. Any person with developmental disabilities is eligible to apply for the program, according to NMDDC, with the aim to have people with developmental disabilities, “in every state department in New Mexico.”

“People living with disabilities are a tremendous asset to the workforce,” said Dan Drury, interim director of New Mexico Division of Vocational Rehabilitation, a state agency that helps individuals with disabilities find employment. “The benefits of hiring people with disabilities include higher profitability, competitive advantage, inclusive work culture, and ability awareness. It is time we harness those benefits in state agencies to better serve the people of New Mexico.”

Applications open on Nov. 1, and those interested should submit a resume and a letter of interest. Materials and questions about the program can be sent to NMDDC Interim Chief Operating Officer Joe Turk at Joe.Turk@state.nm.us.

As of 2021, the State of New Mexico’s minimum wage was noted at $10.50 per hour, with an intent to increase to $11.50 per hour in 2022. However, under Statute 50-4-23, employers can obtain special certificates allowing them to pay people with disabilities a “subminimum wage,” which could be as low as 50% of the minimum wage rate. This is related to federal law under the Wages and Fair Labor Standards Act that allows subminimum wages, with employer certifications, to be paid to workers with disabilities.

However, according to NMDDC Executive Director Alice Liu McCoy, people with disabilities who apply for state government positions through the jobs program would be paid the same amount listed as others applying for the job outside of the program.

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