AP NEWS

The Latest: House approves more spending from state trust

February 16, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on activity in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

10:20 p.m.

The New Mexico House of Representatives has approved a proposed constitutional amendment that would increase spending from a state education trust fund on early childhood education programs.

The 41-27 vote by the House late Friday sends the measure for consideration to the state Senate, where similar proposals have stalled in the past. Final approval also requires a statewide vote and the consent of Congress.

The initiative sponsored by Reps. Antonio Maestas and Javier Martinez of Albuquerque would increase annual distributions from the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund by about $145 million.

Opponents of the plan fear it would erode investment earnings that have helped the fund grow to $17 billion even as it pays out annual dividends to public schools, universities and hospitals.

Lawmakers are grappling with a court order to increase resources to public schools and implement proven strategies for improving student academic performance such as high-quality preschool.

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6 p.m.

The New Mexico House of Representatives is poised to vote on a proposal to divert additional money toward early childhood education from a multibillion-dollar state trust fund.

Debate began Friday evening on the House floor about a proposed constitutional amendment that would increase annual distributions from the state’s $17 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund.

The amendment would provide about $145 million a year in additional public spending on early educational services for infants and preschool-aged children. Approval requires a majority vote of all legislators, a statewide public vote and the consent of Congress.

Lawmakers are confronting a court order to provide greater resources to public education, including early childhood programs. Recent attempts to increase distributions from the permanent fund have stalled in the state Senate.