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Governor Bill Richardson Commits $2.5 Million for Teachers and Educational Assistants

Press Release

Location: Santa Fe, NM

Governor Bill Richardson today announced he is committing $2.5 million in
Recovery Act funds to New Mexico teachers and other public school employees to help pay for rising health insurance premiums and for professional development, underscoring his commitment to public education.

"New Mexico's teachers and school employees are dedicated public servants and I am committed to helping them through the current recession," Governor Richardson said. "Our teachers, educational assistants and support staff are on the front lines of school reform every day, and they've been subject to rising health care costs in recent years. I am pleased that these Recovery Act funds will help us offset some of those costs."

The award provides $2 million to offset insurance premiums, and is expected to benefit about 33,400 teachers and school employees across the state. The funds will reduce premiums by an average of 2% for the 2010-11 school year.

The award provides $500,000 for professional development, and is expected to benefit about 2,000 educational assistants in Albuquerque Public Schools. This will increase their capacity to deal with increased workloads and to work with students with special needs.

"Governor Richardson started his tenure as governor with a commitment to improving New Mexico's support of its public Schools; this use of discretionary funds to help school employees through tough economic times continues that commitment. I am proud that I and NEA-New Mexico have been partners with him in this work," Charles Bowyer, Executive Director, NEANew Mexico said.

"The Albuquerque Educational Assistants of APS want to give a great big thank you to Governor Richardson for his continued support of all education assistants throughout New Mexico, especially during these hard times," said Kathy Chavez, President of the Albuquerque Educational Assistants Association-AFTNM. "He promised and came through on certain issues that have been significant for us."

The award comes from the Government Services Fund, which is a discretionary fund made available to governors as part of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

A breakdown of the $2.5 million includes:
* $2 million to offset the rising cost of health insurance premiums. Employees that have 80
percent of their premiums paid by their employer are not eligible.
* $500,000 for professional development for about 2,000 educational assistants in Albuquerque Public Schools.

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