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Wednesday, February 08, 2017

More From The Education Beat: APS Board Members Who Oppose Governor'sAgenda Win Re-election in Landslide, Education Secretary Skandera Getsa Meal Ticket Out Of Here And Whipping It At The Roundhouse 

David Peercy
We've been on the education beat all week and we're not stopping yet. The Governor and the newspaper have been hammering the ABQ School Board and hoping that last night voters would reject incumbent board members David Peercy, the board president, and Lorenzo Garcia. Instead the duo won re-election in a landslide, an affirmation of their resistance to the Martinez education agenda. (Congressman Steve Pearce did robocalls for tea party friendly candidates and also took a hit with the results).

Peercy was scoring about 64 percent in a four way contest, a landslide if there ever was one. And Garcia was no slouch either, garnering 65 percent of the ballots in another four way battle. Now if they can only avoid having to end the school year early because of state budget cuts. . .

(Complete APS board and CNM election results here.)

It was close but Hanna Skandera's meal ticket outta here appears about to be served. The US Senate confirmation of the controversial Betsy DeVos as education secretary Tuesday paves the way for Skandera to head for the exits and to a nice plum post in DC.

DeVos is a longtime Bushie and Hanna's coziness with the family is well-known. She served as an education deputy under Florida Gov. Jeb Bush. Skandera has reportedly already been approached about a job by the new administration.

After six years here Skandera is now in the unenviable position of presiding over withering cuts to the state's public schools, accompanied by jarring talk that the school day and/or school year could be shortened because of Santa Fe's inability to find a budget solution. If that doesn't signal a good time to join the exodus out of here, nothing does.

Reader Melanie Majors drives the point home:

I know of several long time teachers who are counting the days until retirement because they can no longer subsidize their classrooms, deal with no raises, extra costs to their salary and more requirements from Santa Fe. A lack of money is hurting education. The legislators should put a crow bar into the permanent fund and spend some of that money to improve this state. If they wait much longer, there may be nothing left to save.

And reader George Richmond has an idea that won't be adopted but you can bet it would work:

If  just one local school board would say the state cuts to their budget are okay but then says their top priority is education and that means all sports programs will be eliminated, the resulting outcry from parents and legislators would "find" the money to avoid the cuts.

Back on the DeVos vote, opining on social media Barbara Grothus summed up why the nomination was met with such firm resistance:

That giant sucking sound you hear is the money going from the public purse to the private pockets. America will never be great without public education.

THE MYTH OF SCARCITY 

Reader Barry Simon commented here Tuesday on the boatload of money sitting unused in state accounts. That drew this response from State Auditor Tim Keller:

We’re encouraged by your readers’ interest in our reports on unused funds sitting in state government. It is the “Myth of Scarcity” that tells us that funding is scarce and we simply don’t have enough money for our most important programs, like education. Policymakers and the public know that our state budget is tight and distracts us from making structural changes in our government and economy. Just last week, we presented this information to house and senate committees (watch it here).

Our research has found that we can rethink the status quo by examining three pots of money. The first area is utilizing over a billions dollars sitting in fund balances in 300+ accounts, as Barry noted in his comments. Our reports are compiled from government’s own public audits and are provided to the legislature and Governor each year. Readers can also find an op-ed on it here.

While we might not be in a situation of abundance, there is plenty of money out there to do what we need to help our state. Scarcity is a choice, a choice the administration makes every time they avoid tackling these big issues. Our state needs all of us to fight for capital outlay reform, pushing out under utilized funds out and oversight from the administration for infrastructure spending.

Our take: The LFC, the Governor and the legislature have simply not given enough of a response to Keller's argument on the myth of scarcity for it to be struck down or upheld. Where is the detailed response and suggestions from Santa Fe? Have the bean counters stopped counting the beans?

WHIP IT GOOD

Here they are minus their whips but cheerful none the less. From left to right it's House Minority Whip Rod Montoya of Farmington House Majority Whip Doreen Gallegos of Las Cruces, Senate Minority Whip Bill Payne of ABQ and Senate Majority Whip Michael Padilla of ABQ. With more than a month left in the session, maybe they can whip something up besides more depressing budget cuts?

This is the home of New Mexico politics.

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(c)NM POLITICS WITH JOE MONAHAN 2017
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