February 17, 2017

Momentum is building for better early childhood funding

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If you’ve followed the NM legislature at all over the last few years you’ve no doubt heard about the proposal to fund early childhood programs through an increased distribution from NM’s $15 billion (yes, billion) Land Grant Permanent Fund.

The proposal has faced obstacles from fiscal hawks who think that increasing the fund’s distribution by 1% will deplete the fund and harm future generations — it won’t. As the graph below shows, had we invested only $250 million from the fund four years ago, it would still be worth $14.4 billion (yes, billion) today.

[click to enlarge]

HJR1 is working its way through the legislature now and is up in the House Judiciary Committee this afternoon. It’s a constitutional amendment that, if passed by both chambers, would ask voters if they want to pay for more early childhood programs out of the fund. (All signs point to that they do — polling has found 80% of voters want this.)

There’s real momentum for this proposal this year and if it passes its committee today the next step will see it on the House floor for a full vote.

And the need is greater than ever — a recent study found that the need for home visiting programs in New Mexico (the types of programs that could receive more funding through this proposal) is much greater than previously thought. From the ABQ Journal:

[S]upporters of a proposal to tap into the Land Grant Permanent Fund – and boost money to pay for early-childhood services – say they’re optimistic that this is the year it gets through the Legislature.

To that end, they rolled out a new study Tuesday that says the need for home visiting and similar programs is far more drastic than state analysts have previously estimated. New Mexico needs about $406 million more for those services, according to the study, not $115 million.

Share this story online and follow the committee hearing on Twitter this afternoon (probably around 2:00pm) by using the #nmleg and #nmpol hashtags.

And to learn more, head over to the Invest in Kids Now website where you can find a lot more information, including fact sheets and talking points.