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Lujan Grisham optimistic about early childhood amendment

Preschoolers play during morning recess in early December at Christina Kent Early Childhood Center. New Mexico lawmakers are examining ways to boost funding for early childhood services. (Roberto E. Rosales/Albuquerque Journal)

SANTA FE — Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham expressed optimism Monday that state lawmakers this year will authorize a constitutional amendment to withdraw more money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to expand early childhood programs.

The proposal would also require voter and congressional approval.

“I feel very good about getting this resolution over the finish line,” Lujan Grisham said in an online news conference Monday.

The state House has passed the measure in each of the last four years, only to have it blocked in the Senate.

But voters substantially reshaped the composition of the Senate this year and handed Democrats a 27-15 majority. Altogether, 11 of the Senate’s 42 members will be new this session.

The proposed legislation, House Joint Resolution 1, would boost the amount withdrawn from the state’s largest permanent fund each year to 6%, up from 5% now.

It would generate about $180 million a year, the bulk of it dedicated to early childhood education services, such as prekindergarten, home visiting programs for new parents and similar programs.

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