New Mexico lawmakers propose $50M trust fund to expand education initiatives
SANTA FE, N.M. – Believe it or not, there’s an area where Democrats and Republicans at the Roundhouse may find a lot of agreement – education.
Both parties want to invest in career technical education for jobs that don’t require a college degree. But those careers need more skilled workers in the state.
“We are also committed to supporting New Mexicans to compete their education and enter the work force with career and technical education apprenticeships junior college programs for high demand fields,” said state Rep. Raymundo Lara.
House Bill 5 would create a $50 million trust fund to expand apprenticeships in New Mexico and possibly allow students to get a hands-on start to their career much sooner.
Across New Mexico, there are 50 apprenticeship programs. Many are with trade unions, but some like the Albuquerque Public Schools Career Enrichment Center are built right into our high schools.
“Apprenticeships have different requirements. Usually you need a high school graduation certificate in the age 18, some start at the age of 16. With our career and technical education expansion, there’s a lot of work in pre apprenticeships,” said District 29 Rep. Joy Garratt.
They are calling these programs the Cradle to Career Pathway, and Garratt says the sooner you get children engaged the better.
“We need to start in middle school to engage kids. Kids get disengaged when they don’t have that hands on future focus type of experience. So it all works together, and we need to make it more seamless by having this kind of funding,” said Garratt.
If passed, HB 5 will create a $50 million trust fund. It would ensure there’s enough money in the already existing funds supporting the career and technical education programs.
“It’ll benefit the expansion, which is growing quite rapidly. I think it grew 23% last year. It’ll expand the tools to support apprenticeships across the state,” Garratt said.
HB 5 even has bipartisan support because both sides say this fund will broaden the work force and increase the number of trade workers in New Mexico.
“We are a state that desperately need plumbers, electricians, welders throughout our state, metro and rural areas. So we are huge proponents of funding those programs, get them up and running at our local schools,” said state Rep. Ryan Lane.
Garratt says she is optimistic this bill will make it to the governor’s desk. It is scheduled to be presented Wednesday in front of its first committee – the first step in getting passed by the House before moving on to the Senate.