State legislators propose constitutional amendment for early education

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (KRQE) – A jumpstart on education, proponents say a new proposal to change the state constitution will help students perform better in school.

Democratic lawmakers in New Mexico put forth a constitutional amendment, Thursday, to boost funding for early education.

Albuquerque representatives Antonio Maestas and Javier Martinez per-filed it ahead of the legislature’s 60-day session.

The money would come from a boost in distributions from a permanent fund. The amendment would increase the amount of money allowed for early childhood education by one percent. That’s about $130 million.

It comes from the Land Grant Permanent Fund, currently worth about $15 billion.

Already, that fund often provides New Mexico’s public schools and universities with more than $600 million a year, more than $650 million in the fiscal year 2016.

Yet, Representative Maestas says it’s necessary to increase funding because of growing evidence of early education’s importance. He says research indicates it can improve student success throughout middle school, high school, even college.

The state legislature’s website indicates New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund is one of the largest like it in the country. Much of the money comes from oil and natural gas leases and royalties.

Democrats will have the upper hand this session with a majority in both the house and senate, but an amendment will take a majority of all elected lawmakers.and a statewide referendum.

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