- Associated Press - Thursday, December 15, 2016

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - The Latest on the first day of legislative proposals in New Mexico (all times local):

4:20 p.m.

Democratic New Mexico lawmakers are proposing a constitutional amendment to provide new funding for early childhood education programs from the state’s permanent fund.

Reps. Antonio Maestas and Javier Martinez want the state to increase annual distributions from the state’s $15 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund from 5 percent to 6 percent of its value.

The proposal likely would provide well over $100 million each to year early childhood education programs. It would need approval by the majority of elected lawmakers and also by statewide referendum.

Maestas argues the permanent fund can withstand the increase.

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3:00 a.m.

New Mexico lawmakers are getting their first opportunity to file bills for consideration ahead of next year’s regular legislative session.

The Legislature began accepting “pre-filed” bills on Thursday in advance of a 60 day session.

Lawmakers convene on Jan. 17 to resolve a budget deficit linked a downturn in the oil and natural gas industry and consider a wide variety of policy initiatives. Lawmakers are honing proposals to crack down on reckless driving, increase funding for childhood education and shore up state finances by legalizing and taxing recreational marijuana, to name just a few anticipated initiatives.

Democrats will outnumber Republicans 26-16 in the Senate and 38-32 in the House of Representatives. Second-term Republican Gov. Susana Martinez has yet to unveil her priorities. She has steadfastly opposed any tax increases.

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