SANTA FE ― A major investment in early childhood education, House Joint Resolution 1, has cleared the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee.
House Joint Resolution 1 proposes to amend the New Mexico Constitution to increase funding for early childhood education.
Sponsored by Representatives Javier Martinez (D-Albuquerque) and Antonio “Moe” Maestas (D-Albuquerque), HJR1 seeks to increase enrollment in early childhood education programs, create 4,000 jobs, and provide a strong return on investment to the state.
During the committee hearing, Rep. Maestas said, “With this investment we’re not only investing in our kids, which is paramount, we will see more child care jobs and we will build an infrastructure to train the most skilled education professionals in the country.”
“We see immediate results when you invest in early childhood education” Rep. Martinez said. “Right now, we have the opportunity to adequately address the root causes of crime and end the cycle of poverty in New Mexico by investing in the future – our kids.”
Currently, only 8 percent of children ages 3 and 4 participate in full day Pre-K services. Early childhood education services such as home visiting and child care assistance improve child wellbeing, readiness to learn, and other social outcomes. Children who have access to early childhood education services are more likely to read by 3rd grade, graduate from high school, attend college, and have higher income earning potential.
The Land Grant Permanent Fund is valued at $15 billion. If the distribution for early childhood education is increased by 1 percent, the fund would still grow by 5 percent per year.
The Early Childhood Education constitutional amendment passed the House Local Government, Elections, Land Grants and Cultural Affairs Committee by a vote of 4 to 3. It now moves to the House Judiciary Committee for consideration. If passed through the legislature the constitutional amendment will go to the voters on the 2018 ballot.