K-12 Spending in New Mexico: More Money, Few Results


With New Mexico’s budget $400 million in the red and Governor Martinez having recognized that at least some cuts to K-12 education are necessary, various interest groups have rushed to defend their own spending priorities from cuts.” Dr. Jose Armas of the Latino/Hispano Education Improvement Task Force recently wrote in the Albuquerque Journal: Let’s dispel the myth that we’re throwing money at education. New Mexico has been steadily cutting education budgets for decades.

My friend Republican Gov. Dave Cargo told me that his education budget was nearly 55 percent of state spending. Another friend, Democratic Gov. Jerry
Apodaca, says his was over 50 percent. That was in the 1970s. Today’s budget has dwindled to 45 percent. And the current proposed cuts threatens to chop education funding to 42 percent.

Another advocate for increased education spending, Albuquerque Federation of Teachers president Ellen Bernstein, has argued for higher taxes as a means of avoiding cuts to education which she said “can’t take any more cuts.”

The truth is that spending on K-12 education in New Mexico has grown rapidly on a per-pupil basis in the last few decades.