Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

N.M. State Land Office raises record revenues

The New Mexico State Land Office received a record $2.75 billion dollars in revenue and distributed more than $2.71 billion for schools, universities and other grantees this year, officials said.

The revenues collected from the land office were driven primarily from oil and gas royalties on public lands.

New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard promised to focus on diversifying how public lands generate revenues, according to a written statement.

That effort takes priority with recent predictions of a slowdown in oil and gas revenues, said Joey Keefe, the spokesperson for the agency.

“Oil and gas revenue will continue to play a major role in the coming years,” Keefe said in an email to Source NM. “However, we know that these are finite resources, and we have to have a variety of stable funding mechanisms in place to support the long-term health of our permanent funds.”

The State Land Office oversees about 9 million acres of land across New Mexico and manages its 13 million acres of mineral-rights ownership.

Revenues earned by the agency are distributed into two funds.

When money is made from non-depletion sources such as agriculture or renewable energy, that money is deposited to beneficiaries in the state government each month through the Land Maintenance Fund.

Solar and wind power generated a little more than $4.4 million in revenues combined, or just 1% of the total. Keefe said the projects will generate more money over time, because the revenues now are mostly from bids on leases.

“While the renewable energy revenue is in the millions now, it will be in the hundreds of millions in the future,” Keefe said.

From that source, just over $102 million dollars were distributed directly to 21 state entities over fiscal year 2023, which ended June 30. Non-depletion revenue sources account for just over 3.7% of total revenues the state land office brought in last year.

Those payouts included: $82 million to public schools, $4.9 million to the University of New Mexico, and $2.8 million for public buildings around the state.

Additional beneficiaries from New Mexico Land Office royalties included other universities, schools for the visually impaired, blind and deaf children, hospitals, the State penitentiary and water reservoirs.

Revenues from the permanent depletion of a resource such as oil and gas royalties, Keefe said, is sent to the Land Grant Permanent Fund on behalf of public schools, higher education institutions and hospitals.

After investment, it is distributed to the state beneficiaries based on a five-year rolling average. Oil and gas revenues totaled more than $2.6 billion, more than 96% of total revenues in 2023.

The vast majority of that goes to public schools. This year, more than $2.4 billion from state land royalties was sent to the Land Grant Permanent Fund on behalf of the public schools in New Mexico. State public offices ($71M), the New Mexico Military Institute ($22.4M) and the State prison ($20M) received the next largest investments from the land office for the fiscal year.

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