Last month, the Chamber’s Board voted unanimously to support the creation of a new endowment fund to support and expand early childhood programs in New Mexico, identifying long-term investment in the state’s youngest children as a prudent use of the recent budget surplus. Much like the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund, this new fund would be a reliable source of funding for responsibly expanded and results-driven programs overseen by the newly established Early Childhood Education and Care Department, which was strongly supported by the Chamber in the 2019 legislative session. The fund would be invested by the State Investment Council, and certain types of excess oil and gas production revenue would continue to be added to the fund in the future. Annual distributions from the fund would be made to the new Early Childhood Education and Care Department, providing an important infusion of recurring state dollars for early childhood programs.
A proposal for such a fund has gathered support among policymakers in the legislature and in the Governor’s office as a way of stabilizing revenues and ensuring that important programs can ride out any future downturn in energy markets. “It makes good sense to use volatile surplus energy revenues in the near-term to create a stable and growing funding stream for things like Pre-K, child care subsidies, and home visiting programs over the long-term,” said Chamber President and CEO Terri Cole.
Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s Executive Budget Recommendation, released earlier this week, proposes a non-recurring investment of $320 million in a fund, contingent on the passage of supporting legislation, calling it part of a multi-year effort of “comprehensively changing the dynamic of early childhood education in this state.”
Chairman of the Chamber’s Board of Directors and CEO of the Indian Pueblo Cultural Center Mike Canfield noted that “our state’s future economic growth depends in large part on our ability educate our children well and prepare them to be ready for college or a career when they graduate.”
In announcing support for an early childhood endowment fund, the Chamber reiterated its strong support for a mixed delivery system of public and private pre-kindergarten providers and long-standing opposition to further tapping the state’s existing permanent funds.
To read the Chamber’s full press release, click here.