Surrounded by early childhood advocates, educators, lawmakers, children and parents, Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham on Tuesday established the New Mexico Early Childhood Trust Fund, signing House Bill 83 into law in a Cabinet Room ceremony at the state capitol.
The Early Childhood Trust Fund, co-sponsored by Sen. John Arthur Smith and Rep. Doreen Gallegos, will provide for a transformative long-term investment strategy in the health, education and well-being of New Mexico’s youngest children. The fund, to be launched with a general fund appropriation of $320 million as provided for in the Senate-amended House Bill 2, will be sustained by the surplus of two revenue sources and will make distributions to support early childhood programming beginning in fiscal year 2022.
Lawmakers in both chambers of the state Legislature approved the measure, the governor’s top priority for the 2020 legislative session, in sweeping and bipartisan fashion.
“I am incredibly grateful to the Legislature for demonstrating an unmistakable commitment to the children of New Mexico,” Gov. Lujan Grisham said. “For so many years, the message from the state to children and families was: Maybe another time. This year, we are sending a very clear signal that the time is now. Investments for tomorrow will not wait; children deserve opportunity beginning this instant. We are clear about the unequivocal benefits of early childhood education and care, and we are implementing policy that reflects both our convictions and the needs of New Mexicans.
“And while we are not done, while we will keep building and investing in the programs and services and care our families need, we pause today to acknowledge this enormous step forward for children all across New Mexico,” the governor added. “We are transforming the dynamics of childhood in New Mexico — and in my administration we will keep moving forward every single day.”
“Now is the right time to boost our spending on early childhood programs,” said Sen. Smith. “The riches we’re seeing from the oil boom in the Permian have provided us with a remarkable opportunity, and the smart way to seize it is by creating a reliable revenue stream that will protect us against the economic hills and valleys we face. This fund will do just that.”
“The children of New Mexico deserved a trust fund, and we really started working from that idea, and when I presented that to the senator, we really started putting pencil to paper and talking about the numbers and how we could make this early trust fund for children,” said Rep. Gallegos. “Without his leadership and the governor just having the vision and really the clout to put behind it, it would have never happened.”
“While the legislature has protected – and increased – funding for early childhood programs over the years, even during some very tough economic times, we recognize that more can and should be done,” said Senate Majority Leader Peter Wirth. “This new endowment fund makes sense and is a wise investment in our future. I want to thank Gov. Lujan Grisham and the bill’s sponsors for crafting this smart, long-lasting solution.”
“When I became speaker, it came with a promise to my constituents and to the state of New Mexico to deliver opportunity to every child in the state, regardless of zip code,” said House Speaker Brian Egolf. “The Early Childhood Trust Fund helps deliver on that promise. We are taking a major step forward for the future of our children.”
“Between establishing the Early Childhood Education and Care Department last year and funding the Early Childhood Trust Fund this year, Gov. Lujan Grisham and the Legislature have taken essential steps to support New Mexico’s children and families,” said Early Childhood Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky. “The research is in, and it supports what we all know in our hearts: providing high-quality educational opportunities and health care for our youngest is among the most meaningful work we can do – and it will make a crucial difference in creating a better future for our state.”
“The Early Childhood Trust Fund is a major step forward in closing the opportunity gap by ensuring that all New Mexicans have access to vital educational supports in their early years,” said Public Education Secretary Ryan Stewart. “When our children enter kindergarten with a strong foundation of skills, that early preparation has the power to echo throughout their educational careers. We are grateful to our legislators for funding this important investment in the future of New Mexico and to the leadership of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham for stewarding our shared vision for a truly integrated system of supports for families.”
“Early childhood education and care is the foundation that our children’s state is built on,” said Children, Youth and Families Secretary Brian Blalock. “This fund will ensure New Mexico continues to support babies, children and families through the critical years of early development. The benefits of this fund will continue to grow and support these families for generations.”