Copyright © 2022 Albuquerque Journal
SANTA FE – A political committee formed to advocate for the approval of a constitutional amendment increasing distributions from New Mexico’s largest permanent fund reported receiving more than $400,000 in contributions this week, including hefty donations from several nonprofit groups.
The political committee, called Vote Yes for Kids, plans to use the funding to raise awareness of the proposed constitutional amendment, which will be decided by statewide voters in November.
No organized opposition has emerged to the proposed amendment that would boost the annual distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to 6.25% – up from 5% – and use the additional funding primarily to expand early childhood programs and for K-12 schools.
As for the group created to advocate for the constitutional amendment’s passage, Vote Yes for Kids plans to launch an awareness campaign in all parts of New Mexico, the group’s spokeswoman Angie Poss said Tuesday.
“Running a statewide campaign requires resources in the form of people power and financial backing,” Poss told the Journal.
In a report filed this week with the Secretary of State’s Office, the group said it got nearly all of its $412,428 in total donations from two different nonprofit groups that pushed for legislative approval of the proposal at the state Capitol.
Specifically, the group got $300,000 from CHI St. Joseph’s Children, an Albuquerque-based group that runs the largest home visiting program in the state for families with young children.
It also got more than $100,000 from Organizers in the Land of Enchantment, or OLÉ, a nonprofit group that is the sponsoring organization of Vote Yes for Kids, Poss said.
Allen Sánchez, president of CHI St. Joseph’s Children, said state and federal campaign finance laws allow nonprofit groups to be active in proposed ballot measures.
He also said the advocacy work in advance of the November general election was a natural carryover from the lobbying groups engaged in over the past decade at the Roundhouse on the issue of early childhood.
“We do have an epidemic of toxic stress that’s affecting our children,” Sánchez told the Journal.
As for CHI St. Joseph’s Children, Sánchez said the organization has “not taken any government money” in running its home visiting program, but left open the possibility it could contract with the state in the future. The organization currently uses a portion of its own endowment to fund its home-visiting services.
With just under six months until the Nov. 8 general election, Sánchez said the overall awareness campaign in support of the proposed constitutional amendment could expand and eventually become a multi-million-dollar effort.
Meanwhile, the Vote Yes for Kids political committee is not subject to New Mexico’s campaign contribution limits because it functions as an independent expenditure group, said Alex Curtas with the Secretary of State’s Office.
Independent expenditure groups can spend money on political ads, but must disclose their donors and are prohibited from coordinating with candidates or campaigns.