In a move intended to bolster New Mexico’s education system, Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham’s proposed executive budget for fiscal year 2025, and the Legislative Finance Committee’s recommendation, have both outlined major investments in education.
These proposed investments come off recent data from the New Mexico Public Education Department showing that New Mexico’s students are seeing mixed results, with a four percentage point increase in literacy rates but a nearly one percentage point decline in mathematics rates.
Lujan Grisham’s budget proposes a $10.5 billion spending plan, a 9.9 percent increase from the last fiscal year. The plan includes a sweeping array of educational investments: $33 million to expand early pre-kindergarten slots by 1,380, a robust $101.2 million increase to the to help school districts adjust to new 180-day school calendars, and $58.1 million for structured literacy, including $30 million in capital funds, earmarked for a new Literacy Institute.
Furthermore, $43.5 million would be allocated for healthy, universal school meals. And under this plan, educators across the state would receive a three percent pay raise, totaling $96 million.
The Legislative Finance Committee’s recommendation is a $10.1 billion spending plan that is similar to the governor’s proposal, increasing general fund appropriations for public education to $4.42 billion. This figure represents a $243 million or 5.8 percent increase from FY24 levels.
Notably, the recommendation includes $243 million in nonrecurring, education-related appropriations to address issues highlighted in the Yazzie-Martinez education sufficiency lawsuit.
In her State of the State address on January 16, Lujan Grisham said these financial injections into New Mexico’s education system signal a transformative period for schools, teachers, and students. She said that additional funds would help districts bring their instructional time with students to 180 school days from the current 1040 hours per year. “It’s challenging, but it’s time we did the right thing,” Lujan Grisham said.
New Mexico’s budget allocations to education have shown a steady increase over the past decade. In FY14, the total state budget was $5.89 billion, with $2.567 billion dedicated to K-12 education and $790 million to higher education, comprising 57 percent of the total budget.
This trend of prioritizing education funding continued, with FY20 marking a notable increase to $6.977 billion in total budget, dedicating $3.249 billion to K-12 and $838 million to higher education, accounting for 59 percent of the budget.
By FY24, the total state budget grew to $9.4 billion. K-12 education received $4.174 billion and higher education $1.2 billion, making up 57 percent of the budget. Legislators are currently working on creating the FY25 budget at the State Capitol in Santa Fe.
The proposed budgets are subject to approval and potential amendments in the ongoing legislative session, where they will be scrutinized and debated by state lawmakers. State legislators must approve a budget by February 15 at noon when this year’s 30-day lawmaking session ends.
Editor’s Note: The four percentage point proficiency increase discussed by the governor varies in methodology from the previous school year. 2022-23 data released by PED did not include proficiency rates of 11th graders, which were included in the 2021-22 student achievement results.