Sunday, February 17, 2013

Powell favors land transfer alternative

State Land Commissioner Ray Powell said he is trying to find ways to generate more money for early childhood education in New Mexico while balancing concerns about the long-term health of the Land Grant Permanent Fund. Powell said he’s considering a request to the federal government to transfer about 1 million acres of federal lands designated as “disposal lands” to state management. Those new lands would be added to 9 million acres of state lands already supporting New Mexico’s Land Grant Permanent Fund to generate new revenue through grazing leases, oil and gas royalties or other sources designated to benefit early childhood programs, Powell said. The State Land Office has estimated the disposal lands designated by the federal government could generate as much as $50 million in annual revenue if transferred to the state, Powell said. “I think anything that erodes the fund potentially is the wrong track in terms of meeting our responsibilities to the public,” Powell said. “So what I’m trying to figure out is, how do we grow it, because if it just stays static, we go behind too, because we’ve got a growing population and we’ve got all these other factors that chip away at it.”...more

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