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Plaintiffs say education-funding lawsuit still necessary

April 28, 2020 GMT

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Civil rights attorneys behind a long-running lawsuit alleging inadequate funding for public education are asking a judge to disregard recent efforts by Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to dismiss the case.

Attorneys for the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund said Monday that state lawmakers have failed to address a landmark 2018 state district court ruling that found New Mexico fails to provide adequate educational opportunities to poor and minority students and those with disabilities.

MALDEF attorney Thomas Saenz in a statement called the state’s motion to dismiss the case “nothing but political gamesmanship.”

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Judge Sarah Singleton died April 2019 shortly after her final rulings, throwing into limbo the lawsuit on behalf of frustrated school districts and parents.

Since early 2019, the governor and lawmakers have increased annual spending on public schools by hundreds of millions of dollars with special allocations to at-risk students.

The state’s ability to maintain spending on a range of programs is in doubt as the coronavirus pandemic undermines employment and crucial oil production.

Democratic New Mexico House Speaker Brian Egolf is anticipating the biggest budget deficit in state history. Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham says she’s likely to call a special session in June to amend the state budget.

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