Panel blocks early childhood education initiative

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Posted: Monday, February 17, 2014 9:20 pm | Updated: 5:59 pm, Tue Feb 18, 2014.

The proposed constitutional amendment to tap New Mexico’s $13.1 billion land-grant endowment to help fund early childhood education appears dead.

A mix of Democrats and Republicans on the Senate Finance Committee stopped the initiative Monday night on an 8-2 vote. Sen. Carlos Cisneros, D-Questa, said the bill was “temporarily tabled,” but even the measure’s die-hard advocates concede that the odds of it passing now are minuscule.

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Welcome to the discussion.


  • Brigitte de Saint Phalle posted at 1:42 pm on Tue, Feb 18, 2014.

    Saint999 Posts: 6

    We need a pilot test of an early childhood program. This is affordable out of revenues. Great programs can be ineffective if they are poorly implemented and rolling out a statewide program had better work on the first try. A pilot program will produce conviction about early childhood education and an experienced team to scale it up. Oh, and expect problems with the pilot program as teachers and parents learn. Yes that will delay things a bit but if it works everyone will be on board.

  • Matthew Ellis posted at 10:49 am on Tue, Feb 18, 2014.

    PumpTrolley Posts: 10

    Here's something novel: Perhaps we might consider growing the private sector as a source of revenue instead. You know, that old ( now radical ) idea of creating good paying jobs so folks can support their families. We cannot find a government solution for everything - when we are not building commerce and industry. Moreover, we are now exporting what success stories we do create through public education because young people cannot secure stable meaningful reasonably paying employment here.

  • Steve Salazar posted at 10:26 am on Tue, Feb 18, 2014.

    Steve Salazar Posts: 869

    Those anchor citizens are less of an issue to me than are the children born in other countries who can get a free education in this country, even though after being educated, can't legally work in this country.

  • Steve Salazar posted at 10:22 am on Tue, Feb 18, 2014.

    Steve Salazar Posts: 869

    If the state wants to subsidize day care, it should find another way to fund it.

  • Mark Ordonez posted at 10:07 am on Tue, Feb 18, 2014.

    marcoordonez Posts: 649

    "Jeeze, the new Agua Fria Middle school construction site looks more like a college campus (Remember the one room schoolhouse?)."

    This will now be the norm with Santa Fe being a sanctuary city and the exploitation of the 14th amendment allowing anyone to illegally enter, have a child on American soil which unlike almost no other country in the world, automatically makes them a citizen. Hopefully the school district studied the reasons for hemorrhaging schools. It seems they don't. Do renovations at Kearny take into consideration projected student population in say 3 years or will they have to add AGAIN.

  • Pierce Knolls posted at 8:32 am on Tue, Feb 18, 2014.

    Mister Pierce Posts: 1662

    If these early childhood programs are so important, we should find a way to fund them within the budget, instead of stealing from the children of the future by raiding the permanent fund.

  • Peter Neal posted at 8:07 am on Tue, Feb 18, 2014.

    PeterNeal Posts: 282

    Education initiatives in this state seem to have a common theme- spend more money. This proposal to raid the permanent fund, and another to raise property taxes in Santa Fe so every student can have an I-Pad are examples. Jeeze, the new Agua Fria Middle school construction site looks more like a college campus (Remember the one room schoolhouse?).
    Since New Mexico already spends more on education per student than many other States that get better results, perhaps we should spend smarter, not more.


Key issues facing lawmakers


Backdrop: New Mexico gained only 1,700 jobs during the past year ending in November. That's a growth rate of 0.2 percent and the lowest in the region. New Mexcio's unemployment rate was 6.4 percent in November compared with 6.7 percent a year earlier.

Proposals: Gov. Susana Martinez proposed expanding programs that can help bring nurses, dentists and other medical providers to rural areas. She also wants to provide $7.5 million for an endowment fund to attract top porfessors and researchers at colleges and universities. The governor recommends broadening tax incentivies to encourage startup companies as well as research and development. Democrats are pushing to increase the stat's minimum wage, which has been $7.50 an hour since 2009. Some lawmakers want automatic cost-of-living increases in the wage rate.


Backdrop: The current state budget is $5.9 billion, and revenues are expected to reach nearly $6.2 billion in the fiscal year starting in July. That provides about $239 million in "new money" for lawmakers and the governor for budget increases and to offset tax cuts. The state has cash reserves of more than $500 million, but that could shrink because of accounting discrepancies stretching back more than six years.

Proposals: Martinez has recommended a 3 percent budget increase compared with about 4 percent proposed by the Legislative Finance Committee. Martinez proposes targeted increases for hard-to-fill jobs such as state police. But the legislative panel advocates across-the-board raises for all state agency workers and educators, with higher amounts for those in certain jobs, including judges, state police and social workers.


Backdrop: About $600 million in bond financing is available for capital improvement projects. Some of that goes for specific purposes, including public schools and projects on tribal lands. However, much of the financing will be divvied up for new projects. 

Proposals: Martinez proposes earmarking about $112 million in bond proceeds for water projects across the state. The governor also recommends creatinga  new fund that can provide emergency assistance to communities with drinking water problems. The Legislative Finance Committee has recommended $10 million in bond financing for highway maintenance and $6 million for a road to the state's spaceport.


Backdrop: Public schools, colleges and universities get nearly $3 out of every $5 in the operating budget. The high school graduation rate was 70 percent in the last school year, and nearly half of graduates enrolling in state colleges in 2011 and 2012 required remedial courses.

Proposals: Martinez will renew a proposal to require schools to hold back third-graders who can't read proficiently. Some Democrats and a coalition of social advocacy groups want to earmark part of the yearly payout from a state permanent fund to provide more money for early-childhood education. Lawmakers also will consider ways to shore up a lottery-financed college scholarship program. Some proposals would change the program to make the aid need-based and provide a flat dollar amount for scholarships. 

The Associated Press

Session dates - 2014

• December 16, 2013 - January 17 Legislation may be prefiled

• January 21 Opening day (noon)

• February 5 Deadline for introduction

• February 20 Session ends (noon)

• March 12 Legislation not acted upon by governor is pocket vetoed

• May 21 Effective date of legislation not a general appropriation bill or a bill carrying an emergency clause or other specified date

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