Lawmaker wants to prevent drop in funding for underperforming schools

Lawmaker wants to prevent drop in funding for underperforming schools

By Chris Quintana
The New Mexican

A New Mexico lawmaker wants to alter the state constitution to prevent a drop in the amount of funding from a land endowment that goes toward the state’s underperforming public schools.

State Sen. Michael Padilla, D-Albuquerque, said school districts can’t afford to lose funding if the current rate drops by half a percent, as scheduled by a 2003 amendment to the constitution, in the next school year.

“I am doing everything I can to make sure we don’t see a disruption in K-12 funding,” said Padilla, who has filed a joint resolution that would create a constitutional amendment increasing the amount drawn each year from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to 5.8 percent. The rate now stands at 5.5 percent — or about $655 million — of the returns on the $12 billion endowment, one of the largest in the nation. The rate is set to fall to 5 percent in 2016-17.

“Look at our stats right now,” Padilla said. “We’re 49th in child well-being. Our graduation rates continue to be through the floor.”

The state Legislature approved a constitutional amendment to increase the amount pulled from the endowment from 4.7 percent to 5 percent in 2003 in an effort to improve schools. That bill called for an increase to 5.8 percent in 2005, and a drop to 5.5 percent in 2013. The amendment called for the rate to fall to 5 percent in the 2016-17 school year.

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