With a little over a week left in the session, some lawmakers aren’t ready to give up on a proposal to devote more Land Grant Permanent Fund earnings to early childhood education. A bill that would have put the idea to voters died in the Senate Rules Committee earlier this week. But Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham showed up at a committee hearing this morning to push for a scaled-back version.
Sitting before the Senate Education Committee with her toddler granddaughter on her lap, Lujan Grisham tried to convince lawmakers that using the fund to get the state closer to universal Pre-K deserves more consideration this session.
“It’s been nine years since we’ve really talked about the solvency of the fund, how the fund grows, how it’s growing at a faster and more productive rate than all of the funds that we compare it to," said the governor, "and this half a percent does not create any risks for the fund over a 40-year time frame.”
Critics have long argued that taking any more from the Permanent Fund would threaten its long-term sustainability.
This watered-down bill, by itself, would only get part of the way; it would still require a constitutional amendment and the approval of voters statewide.
It passed out of committee today, so it has a chance to be heard in the Senate Finance Committee, where Chair John Arthur Smith for years has blocked similar measures.
Correction: An earlier version of this story referred to Sen. John Arthur Smith as a Republican; he is a Democrat from Deming.
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