ALBUQUERQUE—State Senator Michael Padilla will announce at a press conference Wednesday his intent to sponsor legislation that will allow the voters to decide on using a portion of the state’s $14 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund for early childhood care and learning. Invest in Kids NOW!, a coalition of more than 40 groups, is hosting the press conference tomorrow, Sept. 24, at 10am at the Cristina Kent Early Childhood Center in response to recent polling that shows significant support for expanding early childhood care and learning services from the Land Grant Permanent Fund. The legislation will be introduced at the 2015 legislative session.
“New Mexicans have spoken in support of this critical issue because they understand the great value in investing in our children in the early years,” said Allen Sánchez, President and CEO of CHI St. Joseph’s Children, a member of the Invest in Kids NOW! coalition. “It’s past time to let the voters decide this issue,” Sánchez added.
In addition to Sen. Padilla, parents, early childhood education advocates, and health professionals will speak at the press conference.
Nearly two-thirds of New Mexico voters support using a portion of income of the $14 billion permanent fund for expanding early childhood programs, according to a poll released last week by the Albuquerque Journal. This funding would create more opportunities for New Mexico families to access high-quality early childhood education resources, which encourage healthy development, better learning, earning, and physical and mental health. Several national economists have calculated that the return on investment in these services can be between 10 and 16 percent.
“This poll is timely, given the Census data that were also released last week. Once again, New Mexico has the second highest rate of poverty in the nation,” said Veronica C. García, Ed.D., Executive Director of New Mexico Voices for Children. “Our state cannot thrive economically when so many of our children are not starting school prepared to succeed.”