Governor’s ‘Moonshot’ Remains Key Priority As Education Makes Up Almost Half Executive Budget Recommendation

Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart

STATE News:

SANTA FE — Nearly half of state spending proposed in this week’s Executive Budget Recommendation would go to education, a clear sign that Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham’s education “moonshot” remains a key priority amid this year’s economic and health crises.

The proposed fiscal year 2022 budget, released Monday by the Department of Finance and Administration, recommends spending $3.3 billion of the $7.3 billion recurring general fund total on public education.

That is a 4 percent increase from FY21 as the state moves aggressively to meet and exceed its legal and moral commitment to New Mexico students as outlined in the historic Yazzie-Martinez consolidated lawsuit.

“The wellbeing and education of New Mexico’s children continues to be a top priority for the state, despite the immense burden created by the pandemic. That’s why this budget includes needed resources to meet the new challenge of getting children and students safely back to school and helping them excel,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said.

The Executive Budget Recommendation seeks to expand the public education moonshot, which was launched in FY20 with the largest increase in education funding in state history. For FY22, the governor is requesting $151 million to expand four key moonshot programs: K-5 Plus, Extended Learning Time, Career Technical Education and Community Schools.

“We want more schools, more districts and more students to opt-in to programs designed to extend instructional time, and those that do will be eligible for additional resources for Career Technical Education and Community Schools,” Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart said.

Equity First Budget for Public Education

Key to the governor’s plan are proposals to direct additional resources to the schools and districts with the greatest proportion of low-income students. To that end, the budget proposes eliminating the practice of reducing state funding for districts that receive federal impact aid payments (funding that often supports the education of Native American students). This hold-harmless provision will cost $6.2 million.

Additionally, the budget proposes a new “Family Income Index,” an $80 million proposal to recalculate the state school funding formula based on tax information to direct more aid to schools with the highest percentages of low-income students.

“The Family Income Index will let us better identify students who need the most support, and then direct more resources to their schools, which can decide how best to help them,” Secretary Stewart said. “At its heart, this is an equity budget designed to give all New Mexico children a better chance to learn and thrive.”  

State agency budgets for FY22 will be finalized during the 2021 legislative session.

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