Statement from Commissioner Garcia Richard on “Raise the Rate” Hearing

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Statement from Commissioner Garcia Richard on “Raise the Rate” Hearing

SANTA FE, NM – On Friday, HB 398, the “Raise the Rate” Bill failed in the House Commerce and Economic Development Committee. Commissioner Stephanie Garcia released the following statement after the vote.

“It is a sad day when wealthy special interests win out to the detriment of our kid’s futures. The Land Office, with Representative Lente, proposed HB 398 to raise an additional $1-2 billion dollars for the beneficiaries of the Land Grant Permanent Fund over the next thirty years, which would have a profound impact on the future of New Mexico and of our public schools.

“What we proposed and what died today in committee was a reasonable request to put us at the same rate as Texas. The oil and gas industry has painted a picture that we are being greedy and that we should just be happy with what we are getting. The truth is that what we are getting is a tiny fraction of the profits that they are making of our public resources; profits that line their pockets while our kids are being left behind. New Mexico is last in the nation in child well- being. We were ranked the worst place in the country to raise a child. Yet, we are blessed to split the largest continuous source of oil with our neighbors in Texas and, for now, we are left making nickels on the dollar in comparison.

“I am especially disappointed in some of my former colleagues in the House. This year the Democratic Majority has taken on contentious bills and debates to push a progressive agenda for New Mexicans. They are raising the minimum wage, working to increase teacher salaries, passing gun control and abortion protections – but this bill to help our kids and to assure the long term viability of the Land Grant Permanent Fund lost out to the big money oil and gas lobby.

When our resources dry up, I hope we won’t be left wondering why we didn’t make them pay their fair share.

“Royalty rates haven’t been updated since the 1970s, and we may not get this across the finish line this year. But I am just getting started on my effort to get the best deal for our land, and I will continue to fight for a fair deal for New Mexico.”

Oil, gas, and mineral production, ranching and farming, and commercial development on State Trust Lands support public schools, seven universities, New Mexico Military Institute, New Mexico School for the Deaf, New Mexico School for the Blind and Visually Impaired, three hospitals, correctional facilities, water conservation projects, and public building construction and repair. In fiscal year 2018, the State Land Office collected $852 million from lease payments, oil and gas lease sale earnings, rights-of-way, permits, interest, fees, and oil, gas, and mineral royalties.