We have been advocating or this legislation for five years' - Backers of early childhood education
Three Democratic state lawmakers said Monday they will introduce a proposed constitutional amendment to let voters decide whether a portion of the state’s $15 billion Land Grant Permanent should be used to expand early childhood services.
The three — Sen. Michael Padilla, and Reps. Antonio “Moe” Maestas and Javier Martinez — said they want to use 1.5 percent of the permanent fund to fund more early childhood services. The state’s struggling economy is strongly related to child well-being, and with 31 percent of the state’s children living in poverty, it’s no wonder that New Mexico has the second-highest unemployment rate in the nation, the three said in a news release announcing their plans. They are part of a 40-group coalition called Invest in Kids NOW! that will push for the bill in January’s 30-day legislative session in Santa Fe.
“Fully funding early education and home visitation programs is one o the only things we can do to turn around New Mexico’s economy,” Padilla said.
“Our children continue to enter kindergarten under prepared and child well-being in New Mexico is one of the worst in the nation,” Martinez said. “We have been advocating or this legislation for five years. During this time the fund has survived a stock market crash, drop in oil prices and has grown by 4 billion dollars.”
There have been attempts in the Legislature over the past several years to divert a potion of money from the permanent fund to early childhood services, but all have failed to clear both houses of the Legislature. A constitutional aendment, once passed, doesn’t go to the governor but is placed before the voters during the next general election.
The legislators will make their formal announcement during a 2 p.m. news conference Tuesday in Albuquerque.