New Mexico House Passes FY-2016 Budget

House Appropriations Committee Chair Larry Larrañaga

STATE News:

  • Budget Invests In Education, Economic Development & Protecting Children

SANTA FE – The New Mexico House of Representatives passed its FY-2016 budget Tuesday, which maintains fiscal responsibility while funding some of the state’s most important priorities at the highest levels. It passed by a bipartisan vote of 42-25 and will now head to the Senate.

Among other things, the budget calls for more spending on education than ever before to improve New Mexico’s schools; increased funding into programs and initiatives to protect children; and more money into economic development programs to help diversify the state’s economy, which has been too dependent on federal dollars for a century.

In total, the budget calls for nearly $82 million in new spending.

“I’m proud of my colleagues for supporting a budget that aims to improve our schools, protect our children and help create a vibrant private-sector economy,” said Rep. Larry Larrañaga, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee. “We’ve come a long way since the days of record deficits. With this budget, we can show New Mexicans that we are serious about putting our families first.” 

Education

The budget calls for more spending on education than ever before. The total new investment in K-12 education is $44.7 million ($36.6 million of which is general fund money), with more dollars going into the classroom for things like reading coaches, programs to help struggling students, and debit cards for teachers to purchase classroom supplies.

Education spending priorities include:

  • Raising annual starting teacher salary from $32,000 to $34,000;
  • $100 directly to every teacher to purchase classroom supplies (total of $2 million);
  • A total of $15.5 million that will go toward interventions and support for struggling students and schools; and
  • A total of $61.7 million for tutoring and interventions;
o   $24.5 million for Pre-K;
o   $22.2 million for K-3 Plus, a program that provides additional instruction to more than 18,000 struggling students; and
o   $15 million for Reads to Lead, a program that helps struggling readers.

Protecting Children

The budget calls for increased spending into programs and initiatives that protect children. This echoes the commitment House Republicans made to fight for New Mexico’s children by toughening child abuse penalties and closing dangerous loopholes that harm kids.

Among other things, spending will go toward:

  • $2.1 million to increase Children, Youth and Family staff to serve the growing needs of our state;
  • $2.2 million will go toward hiring and training 45 social workers, helping CYFD meet national standards for caseworker caseloads;
  • $1.2 million will go toward seven new child advocacy centers, one-stop shops that house CYFD caseworkers, law enforcement and community partners under one roof to better coordinate on cases;
  • $1 million will go to five new family support programs throughout the state to identify high-risk families working with them to ensure that all necessary supports and services are in place; and
  • An additional $500,000 will go toward improved communication programs creating a virtual desktop access to the CYFD system so law enforcement can have real time access to case history.

Economic Development

The budget also puts more money into economic development programs aimed at bolstering the private sector and diversifying the state’s economy. For more than a century, New Mexico has relied too heavily on Washington, D.C. money, making it vulnerable to federal budget cuts and partisan dysfunction. The budget calls for more spending on proven job-creating initiatives, such as JTIP and the New Mexico MainStreet program.

Among other things, spending will go toward:

  • A total $1.6 million for tourism advertising, which will encourage more people to visit New Mexico and spend their money in the state;
  • A total $7.5 million will be used for the Job Training and Incentive Program (JTIP), covering the cost of hiring and training new workers;
  • A $600,000 increase will go to the New Mexico MainStreet program, which helps revitalize downtowns across the state;
  • A total increase of $250,000 for the Economic Development Partnership to market the state to businesses; and
  • $400,000 for the Technology Research Collaborative in order to bring products developed in our labs and universities to the private sector in New Mexico.

Public Safety, Health and Environment

The budget also provides additional spending for public safety, health and environment.

Among many other things, this includes:

  • $3.3 million for raising salaries of uniformed police officers by five percent;
  • $1.9 million to help recruit and train more safety officers;
  • $1 million for nursing facilities; and
  • $2.2 million for watershed and water restoration programs.
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