Democrats Demand Early Childhood Education Funding
ALBUQUERQUE, NM – State Senator Michael Padilla and Representatives Javier Martínez and Antonio “Moe” Maestas will announce at a press conference their intent to sponsor legislation that will allow the voters to decide on using a portion of the state’s $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund for early childhood care and learning. Invest in Kids NOW!, a coalition of more than 40 groups held a press conference yesterday at CHI St. Joseph’s Children in response to recent news that New Mexico is the second worst in the nation for joblessness which is strongly correlated with child well-being as 31% of New Mexico’s children live in poverty. The legislation will be introduced at the 2016 legislative session.
“All the tragedies we are seeing in New Mexico are symptoms of what is happening to our children. Early childhood education is the way to improve our state. Over the last five years our children have gone from 44th in well-being to 49th and 50th. We can turn this around.” Allen Sánchez, CEO/President CHI St. Joseph’s Children the largest home visiting program in the nation.
“Fully funding early education and home visitation programs is one of the only things we can do to turn around New Mexico’s economy.” Senator Michael Padilla, Majority Whip
“Our children continue to enter kindergarten under prepared and child well-being in New Mexico is one of the worst in the nation. We have been advocating for this legislation for five years. During this time the fund has survived a stock market crash, drop in oil prices and has grown by 4 billion dollars.” Representative Javier Martínez
We first introduced this legislation in 2010. Since then the fund has grown from $11 billion to $15 billion today. Two thousand (2,000) fewer children are benefiting from early childhood services now compared to 2010.
In addition to the legislators, parents, early childhood education advocates, and health professionals will speak at the press conference.
“New Mexicans know that investments in early childhood care and learning are a common-sense way to improve the economy and quality-of-life for the whole state,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “They also realize that New Mexico has a unique solution for making those investments happen because we have a $15 billion school permanent fund that’s the second largest in the nation,” she added.