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SANTA FE – New Mexico is very fortunate to have two large permanent funds socked away for a rainy day. In the eastern states most land is privately held. By the time the Western states were settled, the government was keeping large chunks for federal, state, county and municipal purposes.
Much is desert land but much is good for grazing or has oil and minerals under it.The revenue from those lands goes into what is sommonly called the State Land Grant Permanent Fund. Each entity gets its share. Public schools get the revenue from sections 2 and 32 of each 36-acre township. Part of that money is then transferred to the aappropriation amounts for the various governmental units.
These funds were helpful in getting schools started as the School for the Visually Handicapped and the Deaf Shool.
Back in the early 1970s, New Mexico was experiencing a very healthy economic boom. Severance taxes from oil and gas companies were flowing in at record rates. The mines near towns such as Santa Rita, Carlsbad and Questa also were doing well.
So the Legislature and Gov. Bruce King created a second permanent fund, which they named the Severance Tax Permanent Fund. Previously severance taxes were used to finance the budget. That fund began growing to a size approaching the original Land Grant Permanent Fund.
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