November 8, 2022

Amendment to tap the Land Grant Permanent Fund passes by wide margin


Edited. cc

Constitutional Amendment 1, which will allow an increase from the Permanent Land Grant Fund distribution by 1.25 percent, won by a large margin.

As of 9:45 p.m., the votes in favor were 349,579 to 146,969 opposed. Those in favor carried the vote by 70 percent.

Angie Poss, spokesperson for Vote Yes for Kids! Constitutional Amendment 1, a group that has been working to convince voters to vote in favor of the amendment, said by phone that the celebration at Hotel Andaluz in downtown Albuquerque, after a decade-long fight, was joyous. Poss called the win a bipartisan “mandate from the voters.”

Poss said volunteers have been working across the state since March to talk to voters about the importance of the constitutional amendment.

Amber Wallin, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, said she didn’t expect to be so emotional after a decade-long fight.

The additional 1.25 percent distribution from the Permanent Land Grant Fund is expected to increase funding for early childhood education by $125 million and an additional $100 million will go to the New Mexico Public Education Department to address at-risk students.

Wallin said the additional money could help to address some of the learning loss issues that arose because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“In a very concrete way by improving teacher salaries and resources for all the wrap-around services, this amendment will help support and it’s a really important step forward in a bigger sense because New Mexico voters are showing up for teachers and communities,” Wallin told NM Political Report.

Teacher shortages are a nationwide problem with some states in the southeast reporting a shortage of more than 3,000 teachers. Wallin said this win for Constitutional Amendment 1 will improve the chances of New Mexico attracting public school teachers because they will see “concrete resources” being “prioritized” with the passage of this constitutional amendment.

Wallin said the change in the distribution will also help address some of the issues raised by the Yazzie-Martinez lawsuit, which the state lost in 2018. She said a larger distribution will mean more culturally appropriate education for the state’s children.

The U.S. Congress must approve of the change to the state’s constitutional amendment. That process is already underway but the state agencies that will see the increase won’t receive the money until at least the next fiscal year at the earliest.

Wallin said the early years are “crucial” to early childhood development. Wallin said she believes that this win will enable New Mexico to lift out of its position of being at the bottom of child well-being. The state has been in that position for years.

“I think it’s a key to how we improve child well being and its 50th ranking. We have myriad problems in New Mexico and they all intersect with one another. It’s a difficult issue to untangle. Approaching child well being not just from the classroom standpoint, but increasing teacher salaries and resources and childcare accessibility, these things work together to improve child well being and child equity in the state overall,” Wallin said.

Poss said Vote Yes for Kids! did not see any opposition to the amendment despite the decade long fight in the Legislature over the issue. But some of the most powerful state Senate incumbents who opposed the amendment for years were voted out of office during the 2020 primary election.

Save the Children Action Network called the win a “strong investment” in the state’s young children.  

Constitutional Amendment 2, which allows public investment to provide access to essential household services, including internet, energy, water, wastewater and other similar services also passed by a wide margin. As of 9:45 p.m., that amendment received 65 percent of the vote in favor to 35 percent opposed.

Constitutional Amendment 3, which will allow an appointed judge to serve at least one year before a general election, also passed by a wide margin with 69 percent in favor and 31 percent opposed. 

All three bond issues also passed by wide margins.