“We need to make these investments long term, and shouldn’t expect because there was one good budget year that all of a sudden everyone has the resources that they need. That’s clearly not the case,” he said.
“Despite knowing how important early childhood programs are for children’s healthy development and success, the LFC proposal continues to short-change the ECCE programs that give all New Mexico children the chance to reach their full potential,” Jimenez said.
The real problem is that child care assistance in New Mexico has not been funded as much more than a work support program for parents. We’ve never made the investments that would be needed in order to address the multi-dimensional needs of kids in our state and see the increases in school readiness that we know the program can provide. It’s like setting aside only enough money to buy a subcompact and then complaining that it’s not as roomy as an SUV.
In all, the tax package that was passed last year was a win for New Mexico families with children. It also protected revenue that we need for our classrooms, road repairs, and health care while still giving working families a much-needed break. There is still work to be done in 2020 to make the tax system fairer, but 2019 was a great start.
Officials with Kids Count, nonprofit that advocates for children, said the governor’s $100,000 donation to the newly-created New Mexico Hunger Action Fund is a step in the right direction. “But we also know we need to think bigger,” said Amber Wallin, director of Kids Count. “In order to really address childhood hunger in New Mexico, we need to think about wages, we need to think about tax policy in New Mexico, we need to make sure our low-income working families in New Mexico are prioritized."
“Tax policy is an important way we express our values as a state and raise the revenue to meet our goals,” Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham said in the press release. “These committees will study reform measures thoroughly and help us make sure we get it right.”
“Our state lawmakers made great strides in putting working families first this year – especially families with children,” said James Jimenez, executive director of New Mexico Voices for Children, a nonprofit group that supported the tax package and commissioned the report. “These tax changes will really help our working families as well as help make our tax code fairer and more stable.”
Bill Jordan, government relations officer with New Mexico Voices for Children, said currently those with the largest incomes in the state pay the smallest share of their incomes in state and local taxes, while those with the lowest incomes pay the highest share. He said 385,000 children will benefit when the revamped tax code returns $64 million to working families.
To effectively address New Mexico’s interlocking problems, this free-tuition idea can avoid regrettable results if we learn from the Yazzie-Martinez litigation and the Lottery Scholarship outcome data.
“It’s fantastic. It’s a really significant step forward for child care assistance in New Mexico,” said Amber Wallin, New Mexico director for the annual Kids Count report on child wellbeing.