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Investing in younger New Mexicans

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By John Sapien

“There are many projects that government can invest in, but very few have the real rate of return that investing in early childhood does.” – Dr. James Heckman, Nobel Prize Winner, Economics
For the first time, New Mexico ranks 50th in the Annie E. Casey Foundation KIDS COUNT national and state-by-state study to track the well-being of children in the United States. In 2011, 29 percent of our state’s children experienced poverty.
These are startling and sobering facts. Now more than ever, we need a firm and sustained funding commitment to the children of our state.
I have long championed the expansion of and funding for high quality early childhood care and education programs (ECE). To that end, and through the support of my fellow legislators we have increased funding for ECE program to the tune of $65 million over the last two years with an additional $35 million proposed in this year’s budget.
To continue the robust funding strategy, a five-year spending plan has been developed, which would be funded through increased annual funding from the state’s general fund. The spending plan would support a high quality and accountable system of early childhood care and education. The five-year spending plan would amount to an additional $119 million annually for our ECE programs.


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