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Education may be the biggest item of discussion in the 2011 Legislature. That is as it should be. New Mexico’s constitution identifies public schools as the state’s most important service. And it’s almost half the budget.
But every year, state lawmakers get embroiled in discussing social issues. The media add to the distraction by pushing open government legislation that will help us tell you what is going on up here.
And education becomes an afterthought. Actually, Gov. Bill Richardson talked a great deal about public schools. Discussions of Richardson’s legacy seldom mention the subject but he may have spent more time dealing with education than any other topic.
Richardson took office in 2003 with soaring popularity ratings. His first move was a big tax cut that former Gov. Gary Johnson never had been able to get passed. Next came a railroad and a spaceport.
Everyone remembers those “bold initiatives.” But many have forgotten the boldest initiative of all. Richardson convinced the legislature to call a special election for the following September for voters to consider amending our constitution to dedicate a larger share of the state permanent fund to public schools.
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