New Mexico native will oversee the state’s $49B savings portfolio amid windfall from petroleum

Dec 27, 2023, 3:16 PM

SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — A state cabinet secretary and former economist to the Legislature was selected Wednesday to oversee New Mexico’s $49 billion nest egg of savings and trust accounts at the State Investment Council.

As state investment officer, Albuquerque native John Clark will oversee financial assets including the New Mexico land grant permanent fund — built largely from petroleum production on state trust lands since the 1970s to benefit schools, hospitals and other public institutions.

The 11-member investment council — a board of elected and appointed officials with Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham serving as chair — conducted a nationwide search that generated more than 80 applications.

Clark in 2019 joined the Economic Development Department and rose this year to acting cabinet secretary at an agency that administers annual incentives worth hundreds of millions of dollars aimed at creating private employment opportunities, from job-training grants to film production “rebates” that can offset nearly one-third of local spending.

Prior to that, he worked as an analyst and chief economist to the budget and accountability office of the Legislature.

Steve Moises retired on Oct. 1 after a 13-year stint as state investment officer. Clark starts work at an annual salary of $285,000.

Management of New Mexico’s state investments has taken on increasing significance amid an unprecedented surge in state government income from oil and natural gas production in the Permian Basin that overlaps southeastern New Mexico and portions of western Texas.

Voters last year approved an increase in annual distributions from the land grant fund to public schools and early childhood education programs. At the same time, state lawmakers have been setting aside billions of dollars in surplus state income each year in a variety of trust accounts for the future, in case the world’s thirst for oil falters.

The State Investment Council oversees New Mexico’s early childhood education trust, created in 2020 to generate investment earnings and underwrite an ambitious expansion of public preschool, no-cost child care and home nurse visits for infants. The fund already holds roughly $6 billion.

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New Mexico native will oversee the state’s $49B savings portfolio amid windfall from petroleum