Improving education was the main topic of discussion by Gov. Bill Richardson during Thursday afternoon’s town hall meeting at the Tucumcari Convention Center.
Richardson proposed two educational amendments for voters to consider before the September elections. First he wants to establish a new state education position, the Secretary of Education, who will sit as a member of the Governor’s cabinet. Secondly, Richardson said he wants to increase the Permanent School Fund’s annual contribution from 4.7 percent to 5 percent and provide for an additional annual distribution over the next 12 years that will invest over $700 million into public education.
“The rainy day to save education is now,” Richardson said.
The governor believes the state government doesn’t currently provide a viable spokesperson with the authority to accomplish the goal of significantly impacting the state’s public schools, which is why he said if voters agree a Secretary of Education, will become the chief education officer and leader in conjunction with an elected ten-member Public Education Commission.
“For too long there has been lack of sensitivity to small schools because Albuquerque schools have been running the state board of education,” said Richardson, stressing how the new amendments will allow education improvement to begin at the local level. “I’m a strong believer in local control, and (with the new amendments) we’ll have an opportunity to rewrite New Mexico school codes that have been outdated for several years.”
Tucumcari residents thanked Richardson for his efforts in improving the cities local economy and responded well to his education amendment proposals. Aside from education discussion many residents were concerned with the local Motor Vehicle Division making several complaints and stating how some residents have been so displeased with local service they are driving to Logan in order to handle all the MVD business.
“The state needs to do something,” said City Manager Richardson Primrose stressing to Richardson the severity of the local MVD concerns.