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New Mexico considers tapping special reserves for education

SANTA FE, N.M. — House Democrats in the New Mexico Legislature have introduced a proposed constitutional amendment that would tap into New Mexico’s permanent land fund to expand early childhood education.

A bill filed Wednesday by Reps. Javier Martinez and Antonio Maestas seeks voter approval in the fall to divert funds from the state’s $15 billion Land Grant Permanent School Fund.

The fund receives royalties from oil and natural gas production and other income from land given to the state by the federal government.

The constitutional amendment would devote 1.5 percent of the fund each year to expanding early childhood education programs, and another half percent to traditional K-12 schools.

The plan already has encounter resistance from fiscally conservative lawmakers. Democratic U.S. Senators Tom Udall and Martin Heinrich endorsed the early childhood education provisions.