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Early childhood amendment wins House approval

The Roundhouse (Eddie Moore/Journal)

SANTA FE — The state House endorsed a proposed constitutional amendment Saturday that would authorize bigger annual distributions out of New Mexico’s largest permanent fund.

The proposal, House Joint Resolution 1, has won House approval in each of the previous three years, only to die in the Senate each time. It would increase annual distributions out of the Land Grant Permanent Fund from 5% to 6%, generating about $180 million in funding a year, mostly for early childhood programs

Supporters of the proposal said the extra investments in prekindergarten, home visiting programs for new parents and other services would be a powerful way to boost educational outcomes.

Opponents said the proposal would slow the growth of the permanent fund — already a critical source of funding for schools — and eventually provide the state with less revenue every year than if it had been left alone at the 5% rate.

The proposal — sponsored by Democratic Reps. Antonio “Moe” Maestas and Javier Martinez of Albuquerque — won approval 44-25.

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