By M. Benevento
With nearly $20 billion on deposit, many legislators believe it’s time to put a portion of dividends to work for our state’s children and families. Yet, in past years, proposals to tap New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund (LGPF) have never made it to the point of a vote in the Senate. Just last February the Senate Rules Committee saw a walkout by members opposed– so that a vote proposing to tap the Fund couldn’t be held.
Next time could and should be different. Sen. Linda Lopez, the Rules Committee Chair, believes new faces in the Senate will favor a positive change in 2021. In particular, four new first-time Democratic candidates from key areas of the state are in the running for Senate seats. All four went on record in the Albuquerque JournalElection Guide (https://www.abqjournal.com/election2020)as follows:
Siah Correa Hemphill, Senate District 28: Silver City metro area, Bayard, Socorro, Hurley
I support a constitutional amendment to use a small percentage of money from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to invest in our children so we start to reverse the cycles of poverty and trauma caused by years of underfunding education and mental health services.
Pam Cordova, Senate District 30: Gallup and Grants metro areas, Belen, Rio Communities
I support an amendment to draw an additional 1% per year from the Land Grant Permanent Fund, to fund early childhood education. Studies show a high public return in early investments in childhood programs including a more educated workforce, less crime, and a stronger economy.
Neomi Martinez-Parra, Senate District 35: Deming and Las Cruces metro areas, Lordsburg, T or C
Twenty-eight percent of NM children, ages 0-5 live in poverty. The LGPF will allow us the opportunity to have universal access to said programs and more. Prioritizing our children is the greatest investment New Mexico can make.
Carrie Hamblen, Senate District 38, Las Cruces metro area
I support a constitutional amendment that would go to the voters to determine withdrawing money from the Permanent Fund. The fact that this opportunity was removed from the residents of our state to have a voice in this matter is negating the value of education to our families and children.
Editor’s note: Though none of the four newcomers will work directly for Bernalillo County, we can and should help these Dem candidates get elected! Their views on the LGPF are just part of their promise for a better New Mexico. Visit their websites to learn more and lend support. And spread the word to family and friends living in their districts.