New Mexico faces challenging economic times, yet funding for early childhood programs remained protected during the latest legislative session.
New Mexico’s state budget is about $6 billion, and oil and gas revenues constitute a third of the budget. So steep drops in oil and gas prices have had a significant negative impact on the economic vitality of the state. FY17 started with the state in a deficit, and projected income in FY18 will be close to $100 million less than spending in FY17.
September 2016 Special Session Bright Spot – Republican Governor Susana Martinez called a special session to address the budget deficit at the start of the fiscal year. Despite the fact that the majority of state agencies received reductions, the Early Childhood Services (ECS) program in the Children, Youth and Families Department received an additional $1.5 million for home-visiting and childcare assistance.
2017 Legislative Session Good News and Bad News – Thankfully, early learning was protected. There were no cuts to home visiting, child care assistance, NM PreK, workforce supports (TEACH and INCENTATIVES), K3 Plus (extended year enhancements) and Reads to Lead. While this is good news, it is the first time in last few years that early learning programs did not expand, despite budget deficits. Still, there were a few bright spots.
- HB2, the State Budget, included language to establish a Medicaid-funded home visiting pilot program. This will allow the state to utilize federal Medicaid funds to establish a home visiting pilot program.
- SM 23 Early Childhood Services Collaboration, sponsored by Senator Pete Campos, directs the Early Learning Advisory Council to establish a new task force to study methods to increase communication and collaboration among a number of agencies involved in early childhood education. State agencies and organizations mentioned include Children, Youth and Families, Indian Affairs, New Mexico and Tribal Head Start, the New Mexico Association for the Education of Young Children, and family child care homes. Memorials do not have the force of law, but SM 23 is a priority of the state’s Early Learning Advisory Council so it is likely to be implemented.
Hope Springs Eternal
Governor Martinez vetoed much of the state budget including the entire higher education (state universities, community colleges and specialty schools) budget as well as the entire budget for the legislative branch of government. In the midst of all the discourse between the Governor and the Legislature, we are happy to report that early learning was not in the spring 2017 special session.
–Claire Dudley, Executive Vice President for Policy & Stakeholder Engagement, and Danila Crespin Zidovsky, Policy Analyst
New Mexico Early Childhood Development Partnership