New Mexico Democrats boost school spending, shun marijuana

New Mexico Democrats boost school spending, shun marijuana

Gun Rights

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — The Democrat-led Legislature approved a $700 million general fund spending increase Friday that will go mostly toward public education as lawmakers scramble to address a court order to expand learning opportunities for low-income and minority students. The budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 allots 6 percent salary increases to school teachers and staff, a 4 percent boost for state employees, and money to fill vacancies at offices with responsibilities ranging from child protective services to oilfield regulation. Spending would increase for at-risk students and to expand the school year by five weeks at many elementary schools. Two successive annual budget surpluses in excess of $1 billion are allowing the Legislature to plot a major economic stimulus package and respond to a judge’s order to boost resources to public education. State general fund spending would increase by 11 percent to roughly $7 billion. Nearly a half-billion dollars of new annual spending would go toward public education. The budget now moves to the desk of Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, who backs many major provisions and can veto any or all portions of the bill. The first-term Democrat made a last-ditch appeal to a Senate panel Friday to provide greater funding for early childhood education, warning that the state is making a "Sophie’s choice" to educate some young children and not others. Lujan Grisham signed a bill this week to create a new childhood education agency that will work toward universal access to early childhood […]

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