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Finance committee tables early childhood proposal

The Senate Finance Committee late Monday voted 8-2 to table a proposed constitutional amendment to divert more money from New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to benefit early childhood programs.

The sponsor of Senate Joint Resolution 12, Majority Leader Michael Sanchez, D-Belen, said he was not giving up on the effort.

The proposal has been heavily lobbied by early childhood program advocates. It would generate an estimated $160 million per year for early childhood education programs, such as in-home visiting for first-time parents and expanded access to preschool programs.

Senate Finance Committee Chairman John Arthur Smith, D-Deming, who has been critical of tapping the big state trust account more deeply, has repeatedly warned that the proposal lacked support on his committee.

Sanchez said the fight isn’t over.

“It might need some resuscitation, but we always work to resuscitate things when we feel as strongly as I do on this issue,” Sanchez said following the Senate Finance hearing Monday night.