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The Latest: Governor undeterred on trust spending for pre-K

March 5, 2019

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Latest on public education initiatives in the New Mexico Legislature (all times local):

5:30 p.m.

New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham wants to keep the conversation alive about increasing withdrawals from a state endowment to pay early childhood education programs.

Lujan Grisham on Monday endorsed a scaled-back proposal to increase distributions from the Land Grant Permanent Fund by half a percentage point. A proposal for a 1-point increase has stalled in the Senate amid worries that it would erode future investment earning from a $17 billion state trust for public education.

Lujan Grisham campaigned on efforts to provide universal access to childhood education, and she says the state general fund spending may be unreliable in the future.

The governor appeared alongside state Sen. Linda Lopez of Albuquerque to present a bill designed to build support for an eventual constitutional amendment to increase withdrawals from the Land Grant Permanent Fund.

The bill from Lopez would suspend the increased withdrawals the trust’s market value dips below $12.5 billion.

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2:50 p.m.

A proposal to increase spending on early childhood education from a multibillion-dollar state trust has stalled in the New Mexico state Senate and appears unlikely to advance this year.

A Senate committee voted 7-4 on Monday to set aside the initiative with fewer than two weeks left in the annual legislative session. The proposed constitutional amendment from Democratic Reps. Antonio Maestas and Javier Martinez of Albuquerque has House approval.

Senate Rules Committee Chairwoman Linda Lopez says it was unlikely that her panel would reverse course.

Advocates for increasing withdrawals from the Land Grant Permanent fund include Democratic Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham.

Opponents fear the plan would erode investment earnings that have helped the fund grow to $17 billion even as it pays out annual dividends to public schools.

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This story has been corrected to show that Sen. Linda Lopez is the lone initial sponsor of the new bill on early childhood education.

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