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Early childhood proposal to get first Senate hearing Friday

SANTA FE — The proposed constitutional amendment to pull money out of New Mexico’s largest permanent fund for early childhood programs will bypass the Senate Rules Committee this session — the panel that rejected the measure just last year.

Instead, the proposal was referred to the Education Committee — where supporters are confident it will pass — and the Finance Committee, which is much more skeptical.

Nevertheless, supporters of the proposal, House Joint Resolution 1, say they’re optimistic about the path to passage in the Senate.

Sen. Linda Lopez, an Albuquerque Democrat who’s helping push the proposal in her chamber, said she and her colleagues have had years to consider the arguments.

“I think (the conversation) was much more amenable” recently, Lopez said.

The next step is a hearing in the Senate Education Committee, tentatively set for Friday morning. That would give the proposal a little less than a week to make it through Senate Finance and the full Senate by the end of the session Feb. 15.

If approved, it would go before voters later this year.