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Grassroots and Coalition Building Efforts Lead to a Successful New Mexico Ballot Initiative for a Permanent Early Childhood Revenue Stream

On election night in November of 2022, New Mexico’s Constitutional Amendment 1 passed with 70% of the vote. Advocates at OLÉ—part of the Alliance’s New Mexico Child Care NEXT coalition—worked with field partners at Vote Yes for Kids who had never worked on early childhood education issues before. But the staff and members understood what a victory would mean for the state’s communities and the country. The Constitutional Amendment authorizes a 1.25% increase in the annual appropriations of the fund, with 60% of the incremental revenue to support programs for children age 0-5.

This was a campaign 12 years in the making, with dedicated organizing to shift the balance of power in the legislature to get the initiative on the ballot. This Constitutional Amendment will have a significant impact on New Mexico’s children and care professionals.

OLÉ believes that the power of grassroots advocacy led to the significant win for children. The Vote Yes for Kids campaign knocked on a half million doors, starting in April, to ensure they had months to reach 110,000 identified supporters, exactly one-third of our win number. Year-round canvassing allowed them to continue engaging, educating, and recruiting supporters after they first IDed them. These supporters worked to pass the initiative, and many are now moving the campaigns that will follow the election—to win a professional career and compensation ladder for early educators, keep child care free for anyone earning less than four times the federal poverty level, and begin changing the child care system infrastructure to make it as easy and accessible for children and their providers as it can be.

“This base-building began long before 2022. Our organizing positioned OLÉ’s c4 and its c4 allies to unseat obstructionist legislators who kept this measure off of the ballot for 10 years before they were unseated in 2020. Our success last night could not have happened without significant c3 and c4 work. Major child care reform happens when elected realize that Child Care Voters are real and that we are taking power.”

Matthew Henderson, Executive Director
OLÉ Education Fund

Child Care NEXT allies believe that year-round engagement of New Mexicans led to the overwhelming support of the Constitutional Amendment. Long-term organizing built a statewide base of early educators and parents who led our fight, filling our earned and paid media with the faces and stories of real New Mexicans who would benefit from the measure’s passage; knocking, calling, and texting countless voters to remind them not to skip our question on the ballot; and filling the digital sphere with their video testimonies and I-voted photos.

“The passage of constitutional amendment 1 by voters is a resounding declaration that our state wants bold, long-term, and permanent investments in our youngest kids. This is the culmination of over a decade of hard work by families, communities, and advocates, and we are so proud that New Mexico will be able to build on the progress it has been making in recent years in making child care, PreK, and home visiting more accessible and affordable for all families.”

Jacob Vigil, Senior Research and Policy Analyst
New Mexico Voices for Children

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