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Maybe rainy day funds be used for education

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By Jay Miller

SANTA FE — The more things change, the more they stay the same. I was about to write that same introduction for my previous column about simplifying the state’s tax structure because it was a repeat of something I had tried to do 20 years earlier.
This time the subject is a piece of the land grant permanent fund a group wants to use to improve New Mexico’s education system.
Many of you remember that little ditty that took place soon after Gov. Bill Richardson took office.
It was 10 years ago and Gov. Richardson had a huge amount of political capital. He had a big, bold legislative initiative and nearly all of it passed – much even on a bipartisan basis.
Two of those items were constitutional amendments, which required a public vote at the next November’s election
One of the bills was to take money out of the permanent to assist in improving public education. The other was to bring the state Department under the governor. It seemed logical since education is about half the state’s budget. And thus, the governor should have control of it.
Gov. Richardson barnstormed the state campaigning for the two items. The transfer of the state Board of Education passed easily. Voters weren’t accustomed to spending their permanent fund monies. But with Richardson’s help. It passed too.


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