The special session has ended, and despite the fanfare associated with House Republican’s trio of crime bills – including reinstating the death penalty – the session went out with a whimper.
Now that the dust has settled, we can report several cuts as they relate to New Mexico public education (early education through higher education):
· A 1.5% cut to the state equalization guarantee*;
· A claw-back of 30 million from instructional materials and transportation;
· A claw-back 23 million from the PED’s below-the-line money;
· A 5% cut to higher education institutions;
· No cuts to CYFD (early education).
*The state equalization guarantee received a 1% increase in January of 2016 for the ’16-’17 school year, so the current 1.5% cut represents a .5% cut to the ‘16-‘17 school year.
The Republican-led House used as much as 90K in tax-payer money to debate crime bills for a week, and chose not to address New Mexico’s budget deficit until the last few hours of the special session, choosing not to stay in session to determine which bills the Senate would act upon.
Once the House adjourned, the Senate concurred several House proposals that contained small changes to the package of Senate bills passed a week ago, and also adjourned, sine die.
Our friends in the Roundhouse fought hard to increase revenue in our state through bills that would freeze corporate tax breaks and tax online purchases so that we wouldn’t have to cut education and social services in our state- public agencies that we know help our students.
New Mexico’s public educators owe a debt of gratitude to leaders in the Senate – Sen. Michael Sanchez, Sen. Mary Kay Papen, Sen., John Arthur Smith, and Sen. Stuart Ingle – for keeping as much funding as possible for our schools and higher education, and also keeping the focus of the special session on addressing our fiscal crisis – and not political ‘gotcha’ crime bills.
House leaders like Rep. Brian Egolf, Rep. Sheryl Williams Stapleton, and Rep. Christine Trujillo also went to bat for our students and schools, and did their best to ensure our schools and higher education would be remembered as difficult choices were made to close our budget gap.
The last week has been a sobering reminder that what happens in Santa Fe impacts every one of our communities and it is crucial that we, as union educators, exercise our right to vote and keep our legislative allies in the Roundhouse.
Remember that early voting starts on October 22, and the deadline to register to vote is October 11 – make sure your family is registered and exercises their right to choose our lawmakers in Santa Fe!