The State Land Office projects a record $1.11 billion in revenue from activities on public lands throughout New Mexico for the fiscal year that ended June 30, up from the $852 million earned last year.
The oil and gas boom in southeastern New Mexico accounts for most of the increase. Industry-related income from royalties, lease sales and other recurring payments jumped 31 percent to $1.04 billion in FY 2019, up from $791.7 million in FY 2018.
But revenue from other activities on state lands, such as right-of-way payments and renewable energy generation, also grew significantly, State Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard told the Journal.
Right-of-way income jumped 60 percent, from $15.4 million in FY 2018 to $24.7 million this past fiscal year. And revenue from solar and wind generation ballooned about eight fold, from $67,000 in land-lease payments last year to about $603,000 this year.
That reflects efforts to broaden state land use and income, Garcia Richard said.
“It’s the first time ever that we’ve surpassed $1 billion in revenue,” she said. “Oil and gas is booming now, but we’ve also made aggressive efforts to diversify.”
Final revenue numbers for FY 2019 won’t be available until the fall, because of how royalties are paid into the Land Office. But Garcia Richard’s staff now projects that a total of $903.8 million will have flowed into the Land Grant Permanent Fund from activities in FY 2019, up from $690.4 million last year. Another $206.2 million will have gone into the Land Maintenance Fund, up from $161.5 million last year.
Money brought in by land deals that do not permanently deplete a resource – such as renewable energy, livestock grazing, business leases or planning and development – is deposited in the Land Maintenance Fund, which is distributed monthly to beneficiaries. Money from deals that deplete a resource, such as royalty paid for the extraction of oil, gas and minerals, is invested into the Land Grant Permanent Fund and distributed to beneficiaries after investment by the State Investment Council.
“The State Land Office provides two different , but equally important, sources of income for the public institutions that we support,” Garcia Richards said. “Not only do we distribute funds on a monthly basis, but we are also the sole contributor to the Land Grant Permanent Fund – the third largest public education trust in the nation – which has grown exponentially and provides vital resources to our public schools and other beneficiaries.”
Every dollar earned by the Land Office is a dollar taxpayers do not have to pay to support public institutions, Garcia Richard added.
“Taxpaying New Mexicans are saving about $1,500 per household per year,” Garcia Richard said. “That makes us a unique, $1 billion business in the country with the proceeds going directly back into the local community.”