Former Rep. Rick Miera was in New Mexico’s Legislature for 21 years. Much of that time he chaired the House Education Committee and his fellow Democrats were in control of both the Senate and the Governor’s mansion. Yet, in his recent opinion piece he acknowledges that “education in New Mexico has been in crisis for decades.” This, despite the fact that New Mexico spends more per pupil than any of its neighbors, and has for years.
One might think that he would have done something about it in his decades of involvement. But, that’s not really my point here.
Miera is basically saying that policymakers shouldn’t cut education spending due to the ongoing Virus crisis and swoon in oil prices.
His approach is not very helpful. K-12 spending is about 46% of our budget while higher education consumes another 12% of the budget. It is hard to see how policymakers could balance the budget without touching 58% of the spending.
Miera offers no prioritization of education spending (early childhood, K-12, or higher ed) and he offers no details on what else he might cut out of the budget or even whether taxes should be raised.
At the Rio Grande Foundation we understand something that Miera and too many in the New Mexico Legislature have not understood for too long: trade-offs are real and they can be difficult and painful.