State of the States
Governor Makes Lengthy Wish List
Gov. Bill Richardson opened the 2005 legislative session by calling on state legislators last week to adopt his proposals to make lottery-funded college scholarships available to more students and to start a voluntary prekindergarten program.
Those ideas, and others, were outlined in the Democrat’s State of the State Address on Jan. 18.
“The smartest thing we can do to create high-wage jobs and grow our economy is to keep our focus on education,” said Gov. Richardson, who served as the U.S. secretary of energy under President Clinton.
Gov. Richardson wants to allow high school students a “two-year wait-out period” after they graduate to begin receiving lottery-financed college scholarships, give a second chance to keep the scholarships to college students’ whose grade point averages fall below 2.5, and provide the scholarships to Native American students if they attend an accredited tribal college in New Mexico.
He said his fiscal 2006 budget would seek nearly $150 million in new K-12 aid to raise teacher salaries, boost training for pre-K teachers, and start a New Mexico Teacher Corps to train teachers to work in failing schools.
The increased spending would also help expand full-day kindergarten and get his prekindergarten initiative started. “Too many children come to school at 5 years old with the development of a 3- or even 2-year-old,” he said. “And that simply is not right.”
The governor added that he also wants to study possible changes to how the state finances its schools and to discuss “how we can make changes to use education funds more effectively.”
Vol. 24, Issue 20, Page 24