By Associated Press - Monday, January 22, 2018

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) - A proposal to increase funding for early childhood education in New Mexico by distributing more money from a multibillion dollar state sovereign wealth fund has cleared its first legislative hurdle.

A panel of House lawmakers on Monday recommended approval of the constitutional amendment by a 7-6 vote with only Democrats in support.

The initiative would increase annual distributions from the Land Grant Permanent Fund to roughly 6 percent of assets, from the current 5 percent rate.

Supporters of the measure say preschool programs desperately need more money now to expand sufficiently. The administration of GOP Gov. Susana Martinez is seeking more general fund spending for public schools and early childhood education and opposes greater investment withdrawals.

Approval by the Legislature would set up statewide vote in November on the issue.

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