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Heinrich Bill To Authorize Investments In Early Childhood Education In N.M. Receives Key Hearing

WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senator Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), a member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee, made progress on the New Mexico Education Enhancement Act, a bill he introduced to provide federal approval for the State of New Mexico’s proposal to invest Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) dollars into early childhood education. The legislation received testimony during a hearing in the Public Lands, Forests, and Mining Subcommittee. 

WATCH: Heinrich Bill To Authorize Investments In Early Childhood Education In N.M. Receives Key Hearing  [HD DOWNLOAD LINK HERE] 

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 $25 billion. During the hearing, Senator Heinrich expressed that “we can keep that money sitting in the bank in perpetuity, or we can invest it in our kids right now.”

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 $126.9 million per year — and 40% to public education. The total additional distribution would be an estimated $245.7 million each year for New Mexico’s children.

Heinrich added, “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.

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. 

Full witness testimony and an archived video of the hearing are available here.