Legislature: Bill Investing Millions In Native And Underserved Schools Advances In Senate


House Bill 6, helping correct decades of imbalance in the distribution of federal education funding, advanced in the Senate today. This legislation will properly redirect federal Impact Aid funds received by New Mexico, sending them to historically underserved schools in the state, including those with largely Native American populations. 

Currently, Impact Aid funds are not fully distributed to their intended destinations of schools primarily serving Native American students and other federally impacted students. Rather, 75% of this funding goes into the State Equalization Guarantee (SEG), which administers public education dollars to each school district across the state. 

Sponsored by Rep. Patty Lundstrom (D-Gallup), Speaker of the House Brian Egolf (D-Santa Fe), Rep. Harry Garcia (D-Grants), and Rep. D. Wonda Johnson (D-Church Rock), House Bill 6 corrects this discrepancy by removing the 75% credit, as well as the local half-million property tax levy and federal forest reserve fund revenue, from the SEG. Instead, an equivalent amount of funding will go to tribal and other historically underserved school districts in New Mexico. The previously discussed Senate Bill 41 was rolled into House Bill 6. 

“House Bill 6 rightly redirects federal education dollars to the schools which were its intended recipients all along. The bill also addresses the achievement gap for Native American students and the noted deficiencies in the implementation of the Indian Education Act, found in the 2019 Yazzie/Martinez lawsuit,” said Rep. Lundstrom. “We have made room for this important investment within our budget in House Bill 2, and we’re looking forward to finally correcting this decades-long issue affecting our Native and struggling school districts.” 

“We send sincere thanks to Senate President Pro Tempore Mimi Stewart and Senator Bill Soules for their vital work and cooperation in bringing together the best parts of Senate Bill 41 and House Bill 6 into the strong measure passed today,” Rep. Lundstrom continued. “For students in northwest New Mexico, this is the most important piece of legislation in the past 25 years.” 

“Impact Aid was created by the federal government in 1950 for the purpose of financially supporting school districts that lack local revenue through property taxes, due to a disproportionate amount of tax-exempt federal property, such as tribal lands, low-rent housing properties, and parks and protected areas. However, New Mexico has been improperly directing the majority of these funds into the public school funding formula,” said Speaker Egolf. “HB 6 finally reverses this inequity that has long put Native and low-income New Mexicans at an unfair disadvantage.” 

“If we’re serious about improving education and graduation rates in New Mexico, we must invest in the students and schools who need our help the most. House Bill 6 does this by properly redirecting funds, which were already designated for these groups,” said Rep. Garcia. “I’m proud to sponsor this bill, and am happy to see it advance in the Senate.” 

“For decades, we’ve been misdirecting federal Impact Aid funds that are the birthright of Native students into the state’s general pool of money for all schools,” said Rep. Johnson. “This is a more than half-a-century discrepancy that has had detrimental impacts on our Native schools and communities, and it is long overdue that New Mexico right this wrong through HB 6.” 

House Bill 6 passed the Senate Education Committee with a unanimous 7-0 vote, and will be heard next in the Senate Finance Committee. 

Members of the public can track legislation on the New Mexico Legislature website, access committee meetings and House floor sessions via the Webcasts tab, or participate by Zoom to provide public comment on committee hearings. During the 2021 Legislative Session, the House of Representatives is focused on passing critical legislation while protecting the health and safety of the public, the staff, and the legislators.