In June, the New Mexico Legislature met in a special legislative session with the goal to amend the previously passed FY21 budget to address a $2 billion budget deficit. Earlier this week, Governor Lujan Grisham signed the amended budget. Here’s what you need to know about what it means for education
Overall Budget Summary
The original budget passed in February, pre-COVID-19 and pre-economic collapse, was approximately $7.6 billion. The recently amended budget passed during the special session and signed by Governor Lujan Grisham is approximately $7 billion.
But wait, Amanda, didn’t you just say that we have a projected $2 billion dollar budget deficit? How did we only cut $600,000,000?
Luckily, the legislature has built a strong reserve, which will be drawn down to 11% to make up for the remaining deficit. The revised budget also factors in money awarded to New Mexico from the CARES Act passed by Congress.
Overall, New Mexico’s Education budget was spared large cuts through the special session. Additionally, the Governor used her veto power to veto $18 million in cuts to K-12 education and $5 million to higher education.
Here’s a summary:
Teacher Pay Raises
Last year, the legislature approved an increase to starting salaries for Level I, II and III educators and a 5% increase for all educators. In February the legislature approved a 4% increase which was negotiated down to a 1% increase during the special session, which will be covered through additional funding in the State Equalization Guarantee. The specific budget language is:
The general fund appropriation to the state equalization guarantee distribution includes sufficient funding to provide an average one percent salary increase for all school personnel, other than licensed school administrators who are employed as licensed school administrators and unlicensed school employees employed to perform primarily district-wide management functions. School districts and charter schools shall submit a plan to the public education department detailing the implementation of the salary increases.
State Equalization Guarantee (Funding Formula)
The SEG is the pot of funding that is allocated per student, based on their individual needs. This funding goes directly to Local Education Agencies (LEAs)–school districts and state authorized charter schools–and can be spent at the LEAs discretion. Through the budget revisions, the SEG will remain flat for the upcoming school year.
When you add in the $108 million dollars that will be distributed to LEAs in New Mexico CARES act, the SEG increases over last academic year by nearly 3%.
Below the Line
Below the Line (BTL) funding is funding utilized by the Public Education Department to fund specific initiatives. Originally, the department’s Below the Line allocation was set to increase by 20% to $32 million but was cut by the legislature to $16 million. Governor Lujan Grisham used her veto pen on this line item and restored $10 million in cuts, which holds the BTL allocation nearly flat to FY20 spending.
Public Education Department Staffing & Operations
The Public Education Department, like all state agencies, receives an operation budget used to pay its employees and manage the operations of the agency. Through the special session, the PED’s original increase of nearly 10% was cut to 5.2%.
All in, New Mexico’s K-12 Education budget is approximately $3.19 billion which is 46% of the total FY21 state budget. Education spending remained nearly flat with increases in some areas which will make January’s legislative session even more difficult. New Mexico’s economic outlook is not expected to improve, state reserves are low and additional federal funds are not guaranteed. New Mexico is currently experiencing a 25% decrease in revenue. If revenues do not increase dramatically it is difficult to see how the legislature can continue to hold education spending flat.
Buckle up, the upcoming legislative session is sure to bring many more challenges.
I hope you found this brief overview of the budget helpful! If you have any follow up questions, feel free to send an email or a message via Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and we’ll do our best to get you an answer.