A few years ago, all we heard from New Mexico’s “progressive” community of activists and politicians was that New Mexico needed “universal pre-kindergarten.” But with little fanfare, as illustrated in recent opinion pieces by Allen Sanchez and Sister Juanita Gonzales, both of whom represent St. Josph’s CHI, the discussion seems to have shifted to tapping the permanent fund for home visits.
Is this shift happening because Gov. Martinez has been expanding pre-K programs already, without tapping the permanent fund? It seems logical that when a “conservative” Republican is doing what you want already, the obvious strategy is to move on to another item on your wish list (home-visits).
Interestingly, despite all the recent hoopla about tapping the permanent fund for home visit programs, no legislation to that effect has even been introduced in the Legislature. HB 25 was introduced by Rep. Madalena in 2015. The bill would have set up a home visit program under Medicaid, but it wouldn’t have tapped the permanent fund to do so. The fiscal impact report also leaves much to be desired as all it says about future expenditures is: “Unknown, potentially significant.”We knew that though….
While Sanchez and Gonzales appear to be opportunists, using the recent deaths of children in our State to advance their agenda, there are many issues that need to be discussed before New Mexico policymakers start down the path of major spending on “home visitation.”:
- ObamaCare is dramatically-increasing spending on these programs. What has the experience/evidence been?
- How much will home-visitation programs cost?
- The idea of government bureaucrats showing up at your door to “help” you parent isn’t necessarily attractive to some folks (for good reason). Has the “home-visit” program been abused and what can be done to prevent abuse?
- Before we move into home-visits, it might be worth studying the impact of recently-expanded pre-K. After all, we ARE in a serious budget situation. Is pre-K effective in NM where it hasn’t been in other states? Maybe pre-K spending should be shifted over to some pilot programs on home-visiting rather than just tapping into the permanent fund?
- What will the impact of this be on the permanent fund which has been impacted by low oil and gas prices?