SANTA FE – A report released Wednesday by state Auditor Tim Keller’s office concluded New Mexico underfunded special education statewide by more than $110 million over several years and needs to do a better job of tracking such spending.
However, the Public Education Department responded by saying the state is now fully funding special education students, while also pointing out state special education spending has actually increased every year since Gov. Susana Martinez took office in 2011.
The audit report comes as New Mexico is locked in an ongoing dispute with the federal government over special education spending. For more than a year, U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan has been weighing whether to reduce New Mexico’s share of federal funds by $34 million, after a federal judge ruled the state had erred in reducing its special education spending levels in 2011.
Keller, a Democrat who was elected auditor last year, said the state has shortchanged special education programs, while adding that the $110.8 million shortfall identified in the audit – which comes from the 2010 through 2012 budget years – puts the state’s ability to receive federal funding at risk.