SANTA FE, N.M. (KRQE) – Senate Bill 95 appropriates $25 million from the Public School Capital Outlay Fund to the Public Education Department for school safety statewide. However, senators in the Senate Education Committee tabled the bill after voicing concerns about this move.

“I don’t know that we want to move this $25 million out of the Public School Capital Outlay authority and put it in PED – who doesn’t have the capacity to do it. I think the money needs to stay there and be identified there to be used for security for our schools,” says Senator Craig Brandt (R-Rio Rancho).

A representative from the Public Education Department echoed this at the committee meeting, saying they don’t have the capacity to handle the funds. People did speak in favor of the bill saying this will allow schools to get back to addressing their needs after the pandemic – like buying new fencing, camera systems, and metal detectors.

However, senators brought up another issue: a report from the Legislative Education Study showing that funds set aside between fiscal years 2018 and 2022 for just this purpose were never fully used. “We haven’t had people apply for those dollars, the school districts. Maybe because of the match, maybe because of the difficulty [of] being in line. So, I understand why that process needs to be changed a little bit, which I think we’re going to do,” says Senator Gay Kernan (R-Hobbs).

The report also notes that Senate Bill 131 also appropriates $25 million for public school safety. It also appropriates $75 million to public schools statewide for their own local priorities.

SB 95 was tabled in the Senate Education Committee Monday on a unanimous vote to wait and see how other legislation might cover this.