The New Mexico Legislature is well underway, and it appears that many good things are happening this year. First and foremost, the funding for the State Equalization Guarantee which funds our day-to-day operations is likely to increase substantially with districts (in SB1 as of 2/1/19) garnering between 6% and almost 28% new dollars.
We have been working with legislative staff and the bill sponsors to assure that there is sufficiency for all of the deliverables assumed for each district (for example, participation in K-5+, extended learning time, and added PD days). Additionally, we have been working on how the roughly $110m for at-risk funding can/will be used. As this month moves forward, many of these questions will be answered.
Large issues that are in play include: 1) whether the Legislature will change the Impact Aid Credits process that currently is valued at approximately $60 million. Removal of the credit, unless replaced for districts by additional appropriation, will likely decrease the unit value by approximately $95. This reduction would inhibit more than 70 districts in their operating budgets while increasing the funding for those districts that receive Impact Aid revenue. This issue is a “hot-button” issue and must be resolved appropriately this session; 2) Funding for the resolution of the Martinez/Yazzie Lawsuit (the level of at-risk funding, support of Indian Education Act processes, support of the Hispanic Education Act processes, resolution of the Bilingual-Multicultural Act provisions, and adequate and sufficient funding for small districts); 3) funding of transportation and instructional materials sufficiently; 4) sufficient funding of the Educational Retirement Act and the educational retirees health plan; 5) sufficient funding of our REC network; and 6) the quasi-categorical nature of much of the funding including extended learning time, K-5+, etc.
To assist with the communication and to provide situational awareness, we have instituted several integrated reports from the NMAER, NMSBA, and NMCEL on the front page of our website – www.nmcel.org. We invite you to review that information.
In other good news, I have had several meetings with our new Education Secretary and certain Deputy Secretaries since they have been appointed. I am appreciative of the openness of communication and the interest in “full bodied” discussions that has been exhibited in this short period of time. Of course, we are very proud that one of our sitting NMCEL Board members was selected as the Secretary of Education. We want to congratulate Dr. Karen Trujillo and we look forward to our continued teamwork with her and her staff. We have agreed to continue some cadence of telephone conference calls with the Secretary and also are formulating a “kitchen cabinet” concept to apply our field experience to the PED decision making. Stay tuned as we roll out these efforts.
Best Regards, Stan