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Child support collectors intercept federal checks

SANTA FE – New Mexico has increased annual child support collections by $18 million as it intercepts federal economic impact payments to separated or divorced parents whose children do not live with them.

The budget and accountability office of the Legislature says that child support collections by the state’s enforcement office increased to $156 million during the 12 month period ending June 30, up from $138 million the prior year.

Economic impact payments of up to $1,200 per adult and $500 for children were part of the $2.2 trillion relief package signed into law in March by President Donald Trump. New Mexico also is linking unemployment insurance claims automatically to child support programs so that a portion of benefits can be withdrawn.

Additionally, agency performance evaluations for the April-June period turned up stark variations in efficiency, in some cases demonstrating that officials can work effectively from home, said the evaluation from the Legislative Finance Committee.

Among performance setbacks, the New Mexico Corrections Department failed to effectively manage the COVID-19 pandemic at the Otero County Prison Facility, where almost 90% of the population has been infected and several inmates have died.

As schools switched to distance learning, the state waived standardized testing requirements, the Legislative Finance Committee noted. That leaves no reported measures of student performance such as math and reading proficiency.

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