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.

Miami-Dade Mayor Carlos Gimenez's $9 billion budget passes – Political Cortadito


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

  1. I am an educator in the Rio Rancho schools. This decision by the legislature to withhold $44.7 million from our state’s schools because we received some Federal CARES funding is a boneheaded move. The expenses schools will experience as we prepare to reopen this fall are staggering: reduced school bus capacity will triple or quadruple our district’s bus routes a day; Plexiglass shields for the schools’ front offices; freestanding hand sanitizer machines; handwashing stations where students eat lunch; dividers in classrooms; installation of air quality systems; purchasing sufficient face masks & touchless thermometers; installing protective barriers around teachers’ & office secretaries’ desks; additional Chromebooks statewide at about $300 each; additional janitorial staff to more frequently clean the district’s buildings; not to mention hiring additional counselors to help students cope with the emotional trauma of seeing family members die from the COVID-19.
    Instead of taking back 44.7 million, I expect that our state’s schools will need to spend an additional 20% above our ‘normal’ budget in order to safely open schools this fall.

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