SANTA FE, N.M. — The Latest on proposals to increase educational funding in New Mexico (all times local):
New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez says public school students are increasingly taking advanced placement exams that can provide credit toward college degrees.
In a statement Wednesday, Martinez said families saved millions of dollars in direct tuition costs in 2017, when New Mexico students passed more than 6,000 advanced placement exams. She says the number of students taking advanced placement classes has more than doubled since 2010.
Dual-credit courses that can count toward both high school and advanced degrees were included in a redesign of high school curricula by the New Mexico Legislature in 2013 aimed at challenging students and better preparing them for college and careers.
A report last year from the nonpartisan Legislative Finance Committee found that the dual-credit coursework helps many students make the transition to college or vocational school without stumbling.
It also found those students tend to have higher academic aptitudes to begin with, as annual state spending on dual-credit work surpasses $54 million.
A New Mexico state senator is sponsoring legislation to raise taxes on tobacco products to increase funding to public education.
Democratic Sen. Howie Morales of Silver City announced Wednesday a bill that would increase the price of a pack of cigarettes by $1.50 and impose an equivalent tax on cigars, chewing tobacco and e-cigarettes. Any increase in revenue would go toward operations for public schools throughout the New Mexico that rely on state government for majority of spending.
A similar bill last year won approval in the state Senate but stalled in the House of Representatives. New Mexico last increased taxes on a tobacco product in 2010.
A coalition of public health advocacy groups supports the legislation, including the American Cancer Society.
It was unclear whether New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez would support the measure. She has been a staunch opponent of tax increases, while calling this year for tax reforms and increased spending on education.
Closing arguments have been filed in a lengthy trial that could reshape funding for public schools in New Mexico.
Attorneys representing parents and local school districts filed closing written arguments Wednesday in a lawsuit that accuses the state of New Mexico of failing to meet constitutional obligations to provide essential educational opportunities to all students.
New Mexico is one of several states where courts are being called upon to shore up funding for public schools, as frustration mounts with elected officials over state budget priorities and the quality of education.
In closing arguments, the New Mexico Center on Law and Poverty says the state’s inadequate funding and oversight of public schools deprives low-income, Native American and English-language students. It and the Mexican American Legal Defense and Educational Fund are seeking a court injunction to increase and redirect school funding.
Education officials under Republican Gov. Susana Martinez have defended state spending on classrooms as more than adequate. They say new programs help struggling students and hold teachers accountable.
A state district court judge is weighing nearly two months of court testimony in the case.
New Mexico lawmakers and the state’s Republican governor are seeking more money this year for public schools as a state district court contemplates whether more sweeping changes may be needed to fulfill constitutional guarantees for an adequate education.
Closing arguments are being filed this week in a school-funding trial that highlights the plight of low-income, Native American and English-language learners at New Mexico public schools.
The Democratic-led Legislature wants to increase annual general fund spending on public education in the coming fiscal year by nearly 2 percent to about $2.7 billion. Gov. Susana Martinez is seeking $20 million more.
Many school districts, parents and advocates are seeking more profound changes for school resources.
Additional proposals would hike taxes on tobacco products and divert money from the state’s sovereign wealth funds.