Local Viewpoints
10:39 am
Wed March 19, 2014

New Mexico Senate Democrats: Martinez Veto Hurts At-Risk Students

Credit Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).

  Santa Fe, NM – Governor Martinez’s recent veto of $15.2 million appropriated to the Public Education Department in next fiscal year’s budget (Senate Bill 313) for at-risk students is a stark contradiction to her assertion that the budget provides “more interventions for struggling students and schools.” The vetoed money was intended to be used for services designed to improve educational outcomes for at-risk students. Some of the services that would have been provided include reading coaches, additional instructional time, and tutoring for these students.

House Bill 19, signed by the governor, requires school districts to report the type of services they provide to at-risk students. However, her veto of the $15.2 million hinders school districts’ ability to provide these services. “Unfortunately, the veto is another example of this administration placing additional burdens on school districts with more unfunded mandates,” said Representative Mimi Stewart (D-21-Bernalillo). “If the governor is truly committed to improving student outcomes, then give school districts the tools they need to reach these students.”

In addition to unfairly targeting an already vulnerable population, the veto also jeopardizes New Mexico’s compliance with its Maintenance of Effort (MOE) required by the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). This may result in New Mexico receiving less federal money for special education students as a penalty.

“The legislature provided sufficient funding in the budget that would prevent USDE from withholding much needed federal dollars from our state. It is disappointing that Governor Martinez, through her vetoes, has chosen to possibly expose New Mexico to federal sanctions that can ultimately hurt our school children,” said Senate Majority Leader Michael S. Sanchez (D-29- Bernalillo & Valencia).