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NM Children's Group Urges Legislators To Focus On Kids

PHOTO: New Mexico Voices for Children is asking state lawmakers to invest money and pass laws that will help the state overcome its last-place ranking for overall child well-being. Photo courtesy of the New Mexico Legislature.
PHOTO: New Mexico Voices for Children is asking state lawmakers to invest money and pass laws that will help the state overcome its last-place ranking for overall child well-being. Photo courtesy of the New Mexico Legislature.
January 21, 2014

SANTA FE, N.M. – New Mexico Voices for Children is asking state lawmakers to invest money and pass laws that will help the state overcome its last place ranking for overall child well-being.

Veronica Garcia, the organization’s executive director, cites the Annie E. Casey Foundation report ranking New Mexico 50th in the nation for children's well-being based on economics, education, health and family.

She says raising the minimum wage and restoring per pupil education funding to pre-recession levels should be top priorities as the Legislature opens its 2014 session today.

"We have children in overcrowded classrooms,” she points out. “We have children that don't have access to counseling and nursing, that don't have access to technology, that don't have breakfast in a school."

Garcia adds state lawmakers also should increase funding for early childhood education and school-based health clinics.

She says her organization is releasing its New Mexico Kids Count Data Book at the Capitol today as part of Celebrating Children and Youth Day at the Capitol.

She stresses the research tracks child wellness factors such as economics and education on a county-by-county basis.

And, she says, the information can help counties identify problems and work on solutions.

"We give them more local information to help them better look at local policies as well to address the need in their respective communities," Garcia explains.

Gov. Susana Martinez' proposed budget for the next fiscal year includes $100 million in new funding for education.

Garcia says the money is earmarked for teacher raises and unproven programs and initiatives that won't necessarily help a child's well being.


Troy Wilde, Public News Service - NM