Candidates for Governor at Odds on Early Education
Gubernatorial candidates Steve Pearce and Michelle Lujan Grisham spoke at New Mexico Voices for Children Kids Count conference last week, discussing their plans for the state's school system.
Both candidates agreed on a number of educational issues. One point of interest where they differed greatly was their support of increased spending for state-funded early childhood education programs. This has become a hot topic in recent months, with advocates claiming that early childhood education can increase a student's chances to graduate and decrease their chances of ending up in prison.
Lujan Grisham proposes taking an additional one percent from the state’s land grant permanent fund to pay for early childhood education programs. This decision would not be up to the governor, however. She also mentioned considering the creation of a new state department specifically to handle early childhood education.
Pearce said he believes work needs to be done to fix the state's K-12 schools before we start looking at early childhood education. According to NM Political Report, although he clarified that he was not against increased funding for pre-K education, he believes it would be a mistake for the state to take on more responsibilities before mastering the ones they already have.
Former Tax and Revenue Department Secretary Demesia Padilla is facing public corruption charges for allegedly embezzling from a former client and using her office for preferential treatment.
New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas' office filed the criminal complaint last week. In it, Padilla is charged with engaging in an official act for personal financial gain, embezzlement over $20,000, computer access with intent to defraud or embezzle and 5 counts of violating ethical principles of public service. The Albuquerque Journal reports Padilla could face up to 25 years in prison and up to $30,000 in fines if convicted of all charges, some of which are felonies.
According to the DOJ, overdose deaths between 1999 and 2015 among Native populations has increased fivefold and more than half of Native women have been victims of sexual and domestic violence.
The funds being offered are part of a $1.3 trillion federal spending bill that allows for three percent of the Victims of Crime Act fund to be set aside for tribes. According to the Associated Press, funding has been available to states and federal agencies, but tribes had to request funding from states.