The Associated Press
Created: January 06, 2020 03:06 PM
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico's governor delivered budget recommendations Monday that propose a new round of pay increases for public school and state government workers plus new subsidies to expand early childhood schooling and provide tuition-free college.
Teacher pay would increase by 4%, while state employees would see a 3% raise and a 2% increase is proposed at public colleges and universities, under the recommendations to the state Legislature from Democratic second-year Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.
State general fund spending overall would increase by 8 percent to about $7.7 billion.
The Democrat-led Legislature convenes Jan. 21 for a 30-day session to craft the spending plan for the coming fiscal year.
Lujan Grisham wants a $74 million increase in general fund spending to expand and improve early childhood services and education — including prekindergarten, home consultations with parents, subsidized child care and nutritional assistance for children. She is also proposing subsidized child care for an additional 4,200 children.
“By providing children high-quality experiences during the most critical and rapid stages of brain development, we can give children the start they need to succeed," the governor's proposal said.
The budget sustains major state investments initiated last year in expanding the K-12 school year. Separately, about $320 million would be set aside in a trust fund for early childhood education to bolster future spending with the fund's investment earnings
The governor also has proposed that the state pick up the tab for college tuition and fees among about 55,000 in-state students across the New Mexico's network of 29 public community colleges, four-year colleges and universities. That would cost about $35 million during the coming fiscal year if approved by legislators.
Record-setting oil production in southeastern New Mexico has provided a windfall in state government revenue. Government income for the coming fiscal year is expected to outpace current general fund spending by $800 million.
Finance and Administration Secretary Olivia Padilla-Jackson said the administration is taking a cautious approach, using about three-quarters of that new money to expand government activities.
The budget proposal also recommends maintaining financial reserves equal to 25% of annual general fund spending. That money could help the state withstand an economic downturn without enacting immediate austerity measures.
Lujan Grisham's budget proposal also seeks funding to hire 60 new state police officers to add to a current force of about 670 officers.
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