NM Budget “fix” diverted CARES Act Funding from K-12 (despite COVID 19 requirements)

The Rio Grande Foundation is no shill for higher spending on the state’s top-heavy, bloated, and ineffective K-12 system, but as New Mexico students return to school this fall there is no question that costs will rise as PED, districts, and schools deal with the fallout of COVID 19.

Justified or no, that fallout includes mandatory masks for all students and staff, “staggered” schedules, virtual learning, and temperature reading before entry to the school. All of these will be expensive.

But, through a “swap” the Democrat-controlled Legislature (with the support of a handful of Senate Republicans) took $44 million earmarked under the CARES Act for schools to deal with COVID 19 and shifted it to general spending. Of course, while the Legislature was busy reducing funding to an education system that faces both a lawsuit (Yazzie) AND an unprecedented reality of dealing with COVID 19, they saw fit to keep $300 of the $320 million earmarked for a NEW early childhood permanent fund and $5 million for the Gov.’s “free” college scheme. 

The likely upshot is that when the Legislature convenes in 2021 the K-12 system will be dealing with a funding shortfall and Gov. and Democrats in the Legislature will demand tax increases or the use of permanent fund money to make ends meet.

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