Using NM Permanent Fund for Early Childhood Programs

STATE News:

New Economic Analysis: NM’s Permanent Fund Healthy Enough for Use in Funding Early Childhood Care and Learning Programs

SANTA FE—A new economic analysis of the state’s Land Grant Permanent Fund shows that the Fund is robust and that increasing the distribution from the Fund’s annual income would not damage it.

That conclusion is from a report by Vicente Feliciano, President of Advantage Business Consulting and renowned economist. Feliciano presented the new study Tuesday at a press conference at the state Capitol. The press conference, held by Invest in Kids Now!, aimed at raising support for legislation, the Early Learning Constitutional Amendment (SJR-12), which would allow the voters to increase the distribution from the Land Grant Permanent Fund in order to expand early childhood care and learning programs.

“New Mexico is turning its oil assets into financial assets and meanwhile its human assets are depleting rapidly,” said Feliciano, referring to the great gains the Fund has made over the last several years due to excellent stock market returns, as well as the state’s drop to dead last in the nation in child well-being. The Fund’s income comes from rents and royalties on the mineral production on public lands as well as investments in the stock market. The vast majority of the annual distribution of that income goes to K-12 public schools.

Opponents of SJR-12 say they fear the change will cause the Fund to lose value. Voters last raised the distribution in 2003, when the Fund was worth $6.8 billion. Since then the Fund has almost doubled, now topping $12 billion.

Allen Sánchez, President and CEO of St. Joseph Community Health, and Sen. Michael Padilla also spoke at the press conference. They outlined real solutions for improving the lives of New Mexico’s kids. Sánchez and Padilla are among the community leaders and elected officials rallying for a bold response to New Mexico’s fall to 50th in the nation in child well-being in the 2013 KIDS COUNT Data Book.

The report, “Analysis of Transferring Resources from New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to Early Childhood Education” is available online here.

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