December 31, 2021

New Mexico congressional delegation seeking approval for state’s constitutional amendment

U.S. Sen. Martin Heinrich speaking at the House Energy and Natural Resources Committee on Wednesday.

U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich announced bicameral legislation last week to seek federal approval for the state’s proposed constitutional amendment that, if approved by voters, would tap an additional 1.25 percent from the Land Grant Permanent Fund.

Heinrich and U.S. Rep. Melanie Stansbuy, both Democrats, introduced the legislation. U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján and U.S. House of Representative Teresa Leger Fernández, also both Democrats, are co-sponsors of the legislation.

If both Congress and New Mexico voters approve the proposal, which will likely land on the ballot next fall, the state will appropriate the additional 1.25 percent annually from the fund to increase teacher salaries for K-12 public education and to establish new funding for early childhood education.

If the U.S. Congress provides its consent to the New Mexico Education Enhancement Act, the proposal will then go before voters, likely in November 2022, to decide.

The New Mexico Legislature passed House Joint Resolution 1 during the 2021 Legislature earlier this year. It proposed a constitutional amendment to voters to allocate the additional annual distribution of the Land Grant Permanent Fund for education.

Of the 1.25 percent additionally allocated, the state would provide 60 percent of that to early childhood education. According to a news release, that would equal into about $126.9 million per year into early childhood education.

The state would allocate the 40 percent of the additional allocation for public education K-12. That would equal  approximately $118.8 million per year for public education. The total appropriation is expected to be about $245.7 million each year.

“Too many children in New Mexico are showing up to kindergarten so far behind their classmates that they can’t catch up. We need to level the playing field for our kids—especially in their earliest years—if we want to set all of them up with a strong foundation for long-term academic and career success,” Heinrich said through a news release. “I’m proud to introduce this legislation to provide Congressional consent to allow New Mexico to tap into our Land Grant Permanent Fund so we can provide high-quality early childhood education for all of our kids.”

“Investing in our kids and their education is an investment in our future. Investing in early childhood education and care is one of the best investments we can make in our families, our economy, and the well-being of our communities,” Stansbury said through a news release.