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Tuesday, March 25, 2003

End of Session Kills Gov's Truancy Measure

Journal Staff Report
    SANTA FE Gov. Bill Richardson's proposal to spend $1 million a year to try to keep students in school died along with several other of the governor's initiatives with the end of this year's regular legislative session.
    The money was included in a $7 million spending measure (committee substitute for SB 2) requested by Richardson that also contained $2.5 million to expand child care and $600,000 for a pilot project aimed at preventing domestic violence in Bernalillo County.
    Rep. Max Coll, a Santa Fe Democrat and chairman of the House Appropriations and Finance Committee, said the committee did not have enough time to consider the Senate-approved spending measure before legislators adjourned their 60-day session on Saturday.
    Other anti-truancy bills (HB 246, 671, SB 404) sponsored by House Majority Whip James Taylor, D-Albuquerque, and Sen. Bernadette Sanchez, D-Albuquerque, also failed to win legislative approval.
    During his successful 2002 campaign, Richardson said he wanted to spend $1 million a year to provide grants of up to $50,000 each for programs to combat truancy. Richardson said the grants would be used to match funds from local communities and businesses.
    Richardson said on the campaign trail that he hoped to ensure attendance rates of at least 95 percent in every public school in the state.