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Morning Word: Summer Cuts to Early Childhood Programs

July 3, 2017, 7:30 am

K-3 Plus funding drops
Early childhood education funding wasn't immune to the budget woes that led to two special sessions in the last year—and three attempts to shore up the budget. Statewide, funding for the K-3 Plus program, which is a skill-building summer session for kids, dropped 28 percent. In Santa Fe, that's down 15 percent. But the cuts weren't distributed evenly, and that has some districts miffed.

Secretary of State refuses to release voter info to Trump commission 
Maggie Toulouse Oliver says giving out personally identifiable information about voters like partial social security numbers or birth dates isn't going to happen. New Mexico is one of a growing number of states that has refused to turn over such information to a commission convened by President Trump that is investigating unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud. Donald Trump, you may have heard, won the electoral college, but not the popular vote.

UNM Health Sciences Center brain drain
Several top administrators at UNM's academic health center have left for greener pastures in recent months. It's a departure the likes of which the HSC's chancellor, Dr. Paul Roth, hasn't seen. Nobody bashed UNM on the way out the door, but Roth says salaries are lagging and state support—at least in terms of cash—has been cut two of the past three years.

Texas couple found dead in truck
This mystery has been unraveling since last week, when a hazardous materials spill shut down I-40 west of Albuquerque.  A state policeman handling traffic duties noticed a pickup truck on the side of the road near the detour. He found a man and a woman inside, dead from gunshot wounds. That couple has been identified. They're from Texas. The driver, the husband, was found with a handgun in his lap.

GOP health plan could nearly eliminate NM insurance gains
A handful of new studies say the Republican health care plan being considered in Washington, DC, will cost New Mexico between 133,000 and 250,000 people on Medicaid rolls. That's a cost savings, to some extent, because the state administers Medicaid, but New Mexico gets an aggressive federal match—roughly four to one—for its Medicaid spending. That goes away, too. Since New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez expanded Medicaid eligibility, 265,000 people have signed up. The GOP plan, studies say, would tank between 11,000 and 33,000 jobs by 2026.

Santa Fe Network set to debut
New Mexico has some of the best film and television production incentives around and the government crows every time the state lands a new Hollywood production. But one of the big critiques of the state program is it leaves out the local, little guys. Santa Fe plans to roll out a digital streaming network next week to give those people a venue.

New hospital expanding before it's built
The new Presbyterian Healthcare Services hospital out by Cerrillos and I-25 is going to be bigger than initially thought. Possible expansion was built into the plans, but PHS decided to make that move before even opening the doors. The additional work pushes back the opening for the hospital, which will compete directly with Christus St. Vincent, to the end of next year. 

A slow-motion crash
Over at New Mexico in Depth, the team takes a look at what went wrong in the state's crackdown on alleged Medicaid billing fraud among behavioral health care providers. It's netted just a fraction of the original fraud claims by the Martinez administration, while costing the state millions.

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