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New Mexico Early Childhood Education And Care Department requests spending increase as revenue forecasts slow

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(The Center Square) – The New Mexico Early Childhood Education and Care Department (ECECD) presented its Fiscal Year 2025 budget request in a Legislative Finance Committee hearing this week.

The plan outlined the agency’s plans to increase access to early childhood programs and services, maintain expanded eligibility for childcare assistance, and spend on support for early childhood providers and professionals.

ECECD asked for a $149,372,000 increase in general funds over Fiscal Year 2024. It also asked for special appropriations totaling $23,500,000, making its total proposed Fiscal Year 2025 operating budget $818,186,900.

“Because of bold investments by our state legislature and strong leadership from our governor, New Mexico has shot to the front of the pack in early childhood education and care,” ECECD Cabinet Secretary Elizabeth Groginsky said. “Families across the state are feeling the benefits, and this budget solidifies those gains and maintains our forward momentum. This proposal will allow us to serve more children with high-quality care, keeps child care free for a majority of New Mexico families, and ensures that the early childhood workforce has the credentials they need and the compensation they deserve.”

The Department claims that “high-quality early childhood education strengthens families, has the potential to break the cycle of intergenerational poverty, and provide a 13% annual return on investment.”

It also notes that most human brain development occurs in the first three years of one’s life and says good development is key for “lower special education, higher graduation rates, improved mental and physical health, economic mobility, reduced criminal justice system involvement, and a host of other individual and societal benefits,” according to the release.

However, studies of early childhood interventions have shown that successful small programs are hard to scale and widely implemented most benefits from early childhood education fade by third grade.

The requested increase comes as the state projects slowing revenue growth in Fiscal Year 2025. The New Mexico General Fund is expected to grow by 2.2% in the next Fiscal Year, according to the state’s Taxation and Revenue Department.

The forecast said the General Fund recurring revenues will exceed $12.7 billion for Fiscal Year 2024 and over $13 billion for Fiscal Year 2025.

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