How New Mexico’s early childhood agency fared in the most recent legislative session

By: - May 9, 2023 4:45 am
A statue of several children outside the entrance to the New Mexico state capitol is covered in snow.

Snow fell in Santa Fe on Dec. 12, 2022. Inside lawmakers made changes to the Roundhouse anti-harassment policy. (Photo by Shaun Griswold / Source NM)

New Mexico’s pre-kindergarten education and child care agency greatly benefited from the most recent legislative session, receiving hundreds of millions more in funding from state lawmakers than it initially requested.

In the 2022 midterm elections before the recent 60-day legislative session, New Mexicans overwhelmingly voted to amend the state constitution to require the state to put more money into public education by an estimated $250 million, including $150 million to early childhood education.

That December, the Early Childhood Education and Care Department asked the Legislature for a Fiscal Year 2024 budget of more than $453.6 million.

By January, advocates educated lawmakers on what it would take to create the early childhood education workforce they want to see.

The Legislative Education Study Committee endorsed a bill asking the state to create a $50 million Tribal Education Trust Fund to start up a model that can help tribes pay to build educational programs and systems for communities across New Mexico.

The next day, Lujan Grisham, in her state of the state address, said universal child care could be supported by the Early Childhood Education Trust Fund and a universal school lunch program.

YDI Employees in February protested for higher wages at a shareholders meeting where they tried to encourage leadership to meet with ECECD and the cabinet secretary.

Lawmakers in March approved the $9.57 billion budget for Fiscal Year 2024, including an increase of $135 million for the Early Childhood Education and Care Department.

Lujan Grisham signed two pieces of legislation laying out the way ECECD could use the money.

Finally on April 7, Lujan Grisham signed the Fiscal Year 2024 budget into law, including a total of $675 million for ECECD.

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Austin Fisher
Austin Fisher

Austin Fisher is a journalist based in Santa Fe. He has worked for newspapers in New Mexico and his home state of Kansas, including the Topeka Capital-Journal, the Garden City Telegram, the Rio Grande SUN and the Santa Fe Reporter. Since starting a full-time career in reporting in 2015, he’s aimed to use journalism to lift up voices that typically go unheard in public debates around economic inequality, policing and environmental racism.