Thursday, November 12, 2009

Education Secretary Garcia reacts to budget cuts

Immediately following Gov. Bill Richardson's news conference -- at noon in Santa Fe -- we spoke with Education Secretary Veronica Garcia about cuts to education programs and whether or not tapping the state's permanent fund is a good idea or not.

'Spinning the numbers on education cuts is a dangerous game'

AFT Lobbyist Tiffany Fiser
Tiffany Fiser with the American Federation of Teachers - New Mexico tells us that the governor's decision will make it even more difficult for educators to provide quality programs to children in the classroom.

"Lawmakers are cutting classroom support," Fiser said. "The bottom line is that the state equalization guarantee funds every aspect of our schools. This new round of cuts certainly was not the outcome we had hoped for because it again cuts the state equalization guarantee. We don't think education can withstand another hit without severely impacting the education we are providing to children."

While teachers won't be impacted by the governor's mandatory five day furloughs, they will likely face some layoffs across the state because of the cuts already made.

"Spinning the number on the education cuts is a dangerous game," Fiser said. "This cut reduces the state equalization guarantee again this year (for the fourth time), and will also affect the 2011 baseline for education spending."

Fiser wants to know why lawmakers and analysts aren't talking about the true nature of recurring cuts to education funding and one-time money being used to obfuscate those cuts.

"The one percent cuts they keep talking about misleading," Fiser said. "Teachers can do the math on these cuts, and many feel betrayed."

The teacher's union Fiser lobbies for suggests the only long-term responsible way to solve the state's budget crisis is to enact revenue enhancements, including sin taxes, rolling back tax cuts for the wealthiest New Mexican's and making big box corporations pay their fare share.

"Government has got to reign in wasteful tax spending," Fisher said. "The budget will never be balanced and they are going to bankrupt education and public service."

Exercising his veto pen

The Governor’s budget action, combined with his efforts to save $150 million by freezing capital outlay projects, will put the state on a responsible path toward balancing the current-year budget.

“Since the session ended, I have heard from hundreds to New Mexicans, including many legislators – who want me to exercise my veto pen to preserve those services,” Governor Richardson said. “I understand and share their concerns, particularly in light of the previous budget cuts.

“However, it would be fiscally irresponsible to simply veto this bill and wait for the Legislature to meet again in January – more than half-way through the fiscal year. “Instead, I am signing an Executive Order today that directs more responsible budget cuts across state government.”

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1 comment:

Hammer said...

Ms. Fiser is spot on. Education of the children is the last thing that should ever be cut, that is our future. The legislature is giving the tax break to the "Walmarts", at the expense of our education system and the future of this state. The governor tells us he has heard from many New Mexicans to veto this budget with education cuts, and of course he ignored the will of the people.

Make sure you remember your children the next time you vote.