Governor Susana Martinez signed Senate Bill 159 (SB159), sponsored by Senator Jacob Candelaria (D-26-Bernalillo) and co-sponsored by Representative Meme Stewart (D-21-Bernalillo). The bill will allow the Public School Capital Outlay Council (PSCOC) to expend up to $10 million annually for the next five fiscal years, to correct deficiencies in broadband infrastructure in schools statewide.
“This is the single largest state investment in broadband access for public schools. Building our education technology infrastructure provides our kids the platform to succeed,” said Sen. Candelaria. “SB 159 makes a $50 million investment in that future, without raising taxes! Thanks to my co-sponsor, Representative Mimi Stewart for her leadership and vision in working together on this bill.”
According to the bill, funding will go towards physical hardware used to interconnect education technology equipment for school districts and school buildings necessary to support broadband connectivity. Applications for assistance from the fund shall be made by school districts to the PSCOC in accordance with requirements of the PSCOC. The act will be implemented immediately, as it carries an emergency clause.
“Representative Stewart, Chairwoman of the House Education Committee, and I have both recognized the need for a better and more efficient technological infrastructure in our state’s schools. New Mexico schools, especially those in rural areas, needs this fund to help us be competitive with the rest of the world when it comes to providing technical learning opportunities, “ said Sen. Candelaria. “It will enhance educational experience in the classroom by providing access to digital education tools, build computer skills at a young age, and allow students to have access to additional learning opportunities. This will prepare them to take on the ever-progressing, technologically-savvy world we live in today, especially if they decide to take on higher learning.”