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House panel OKs public school budget bill

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By Barry Massey

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — State spending on public schools would be cut by more than 1 percent next year under a budget proposal approved by a House committee Monday.

The House Education Committee recommended spending nearly $2.4 billion on schools, the Public Education Department and education programs such as pre-kindergarten in the fiscal year that starts in July. That's about $30 million, or 1.2 percent, less than this year's spending on public education.

Committee chairman Rep. Rick Miera, D-Albuquerque, said the panel tried to protect school funding as much as possible.

But he said, "Times are tough. We are going to be cutting."

The panel's spending recommendations could force schools to eliminate one professional development day for teachers and other employees.

About $5 million of the proposed cuts are expected to come from administrative cost-savings. However, Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has proposed trimming school administrative costs by $30 million next year. The department's budget would be trimmed by $3 million, or about 21 percent, which was recommended by the governor.

The committee's bill isn't the final word on school finance and more cuts are likely for schools before the Legislature finishes work on a state budget for next year.


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