NEW MEXICO (KRQE) – Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham wants lawmakers to funnel more money into early childhood education. To achieve that goal, the administration is pushing House Bill 83, which would create a trust fund for early education programming using revenue from the state’s oil boom. The bill is sponsored by Doreen Y. Gallegos (D) – Majority Whip and John Arthur Smith (D) Dona Ana, Hidalgo, Luna and Sierra Counties.
Should the bill pass, it will begin with a $320 million appropriation from the general fund in 2021. Each year after, the fund would increase based on revenue from the emergency school and federal mineral leasing taxes.
Advocates for the bill, like Save the Children Action Network, or SCAN, say it would give the state a brighter future, but Republicans and some Democrats worry the appropriation will dip too deep into the general fund, shorting the budget for K-12 improvements.
“We need to make sure that whatever it is we start that we are able to pay for going into the future and don’t have to go and raise taxes on people or sweep back expenditures.”Minority Whip Rod Montoya (R)
SCAN and its legislative partners say they’re not fighting against funding for K-12 education, but hoping for an overall investment in New Mexico’s future.
“In order to make the impact that we want to see at the 3rd grade 5th grade 12th grade level, you have to start early.”Representative Javier Martinez (D) Bernalillo County
Teachers we spoke with say early education is proven to raise graduation rates and lower crime overtime by fostering positive core values during a child’s formative years.
“When you give them those opportunities in a high quality program you literally see a change in their social emotional intellectual and physical development.”Cami Mallory, Early Education Teacher
House Bill 83 is currently in the house education committee, its preliminary hearing is expected for scheduling later today.