WASHINGTON - Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.) made significant progress on legislation to unlock major investments in early childhood education in New Mexico. During a markup in the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, Senator Heinrich’s New Mexico Education Enhancement Act passed unanimously with bipartisan support. The legislation now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
Senator Heinrich’s legislation would provide congressional approval for the State of New Mexico’s proposal to invest Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) dollars into early childhood education.
When the legislation received testimony earlier this year, Senator Heinrich expressed that, “For far too long, we have drastically underinvested in children’s success – if we want future generations to succeed and thrive, we need to commit real resources to increase opportunities for them and their families. Improving our education system is key to making sure our communities are a great place to raise a family, to start or expand a business, to find a good-paying job, and to hire the best and brightest employees.”
Proposals to fund early childhood education through the State of New Mexico’s Permanent Fund started about a decade ago, when the Fund sat at about $10 billion dollars – today it’s valued at more than $25 billion.
In March 2021, the New Mexico Legislature passed House Joint Resolution 1 (HJR1), a historic resolution that will propose a state constitutional amendment to the voters to invest the state’s permanent funds in early childhood education programs. This change to the state’s constitution requires proposed authorization at the federal level from Congress, as well as approval from New Mexico voters.
The proposed state constitutional amendment would allocate an additional 1.25% annual distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund, with 60% of the additional allocation directed to early childhood education — estimated to be about $140 million per year — and 40% to public education. The total additional distribution would be an estimated $236 million each year for New Mexico’s children.
U.S. Representative Melanie Stansbury (D-N.M.) leads the legislation in the U.S. House of Representatives. U.S. Senator Ben Ray Luján (D-N.M.) and U.S. Representative Teresa Leger Fernández (D-N.M.) are original cosponsors.