By Associated Press - Wednesday, March 8, 2017

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - New Mexico lawmakers are debating whether to increase spending on early childhood education programs with money from the state’s largest permanent fund.

The state House of Representatives considered on Wednesday a proposed constitutional amendment from Democratic Reps. Antonio Maestas and Javier Martinez that would increase annual distributions from the state’s $15 billion Land Grant Permanent Fund. The plan would increase annual withdrawals by 1 percent to a total of 6 percent of the fund’s value starting in 2020.

New distributions of about $130 million a year eventually would go toward education programs for children ages 0-5, including home visits by counselors designed to ward off neglect.

The State Investment Council warns the plan would likely reduce future investment earnings that support public schools and hospitals.

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