In 1959, she joined New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee; she served as its first woman director from 1968-1982. A brilliant strategist and trusted advisor, she was highly valued by legislative leaders and served as chief of staff for two Governors, contributing 40 years of exemplary public service.
Shortly out of college, Maralyn Budke joined the staff of New Mexico’s Legislative Finance Committee in 1959. Less than ten years later, she was appointed chief of staff for the State Governor. After two years as the Governor’s chief of staff, she became the first woman director of the Legislative Finance Committee, serving as director from 1968-1982. A brilliant strategist and trusted advisor, she was a confidant to legislative leaders and chief of staff for Governors Cargo and Carruthers. Highly valued for her knowledge and insight, she mentored legislative and executive staff during 40 years of exemplary public service. Budke was Inez Gill’s first intern, and Budke and Gill were widely considered two of the most important and influential women in New Mexico state government.
Born to Herbert and Sue Budke on February 6, 1936, Maralyn Budke was raised in Amarillo, Texas. She majored in political science and graduated with bachelor and master degrees with honors from the University of New Mexico, where she was active in the Kappa Alpha Theta sorority.
In 1959, Maralyn joined the staff of the Legislative Finance Committee (LFC) where she held positions of increasing responsibility until 1967 when, just 10 years after her graduation from the University of New Mexico with a degree in political science, she became chief of staff for the state’s governor, David Cargo.
From the governor’s office she moved back to the state’s important LFC, which she directed for the next 14 years, training three of her successors in the process. In 1968, she was selected as the first woman Director of the LFC where she served until her first retirement in 1982, after 23 years of government service. While young for retirement at 46, with family wealth supporting her, she felt a strong need to contribute to society in other ways.
In 1986, Budke returned from retirement to become chief of staff to Governor Garrey Carruthers, for which she accepted only a symbolic salary of $1 a year. Despite the importance of titles in government, she was known simply as Maralyn, yet many consider her to be one of the most important women ever to have worked in New Mexico state government. A trusted advisor and confidant to virtually every significant legislative leader and governor over 40 years, her legacy in public finance and its influence on public policy remain evident today.
Also well known for her philanthropic efforts, she has been credited with the existence of the UNM School of Medicine and University of New Mexico Hospital. Following her second retirement, she served for 13 years on the University of New Mexico Hospital Board of Trustees and Clinical Operations Board, and also served on the University of New Mexico’s Foundation Board of Directors. For 25 years, she has helped lead Santa Maria El Mirador, a non-profit organization dedicated to the developmentally disabled community, as the organization grew from six clients to serving children and adults throughout New Mexico. She also held leadership positions in Sangre de Cristo Animal Protection, Inc., and the New Mexico International Women’s Forum.
Her life and career, and her numerous awards for Distinguished and Exemplary Service, are memorialized in the first Women in Politics collection in the New Mexico Archives.