Oil and gas production was the driving force behind a record revenue haul in the fiscal year that just ended in New Mexico, says the State Land Office. Education and economic development officials applauded the news as the industry continues to provide a steady revenue stream for public services and new job growth.

The Albuquerque Journal reports that economic activities on public lands in the state brought in $1.11 billion in revenue during fiscal year 2019, of which oil and gas accounted for $1.04 billion – more than 90% of the total.

The oil and gas industry plays a major role in the New Mexico economy and the state budget. As Stephanie Garcia Richard, the State Land Office Commissioner, told the Albuquerque Journal, the revenue from the industry is a primary funding source for education, including the Land Grant Permanent Fund, one of the largest public education trust funds in the country.

Education officials in the state like Peggy Muller-Aragón, an Albuquerque school board member, are encouraging the new administration under Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham to maintain the policies that have led to increased production.

“This increase will directly benefit our schools to the tune of at least a quarter of a billion dollars for Albuquerque Public Schools alone, as APS receives about one-third of the total slated for K-12 education,” Muller-Aragón said. “My hope is the new Land Commissioner will have the foresight to continue these policies and not hinder the continued production of fossil fuels as this will have a negative impact on dollars going toward our children’s education. Bad policy coming from the Land Office can devastate funding for our schools, while the good policies of former Governor Martinez got us to where we are today.”

Missi Currier, the president and CEO of the Economic Development Corporation of Lea County, praised the recent data and the massive economic boon it’s providing for her region.

“Production throughout Lea County and Southeastern New Mexico has not come close to hitting full stride. As production continues to ramp up, all of New Mexico will continue to benefit from the economic engine that is Lea County,” Currier said. “In the coming years, production is expected to double from already high numbers thanks to technology advances and ever-increasing operating efficiencies. This increase will bring billions of dollars in additional local and state tax revenues and creates quality jobs.”

The trend in the industry continues to grow at a steady pace. The 2019 total accounts for a 31% increase on the $791 million brought in during fiscal year 2018, which itself was a 28% increase from fiscal year 2017.

Because oil and gas has generated so much revenue in recent years, it’s saving New Mexico taxpayers $1,500 a year in taxes to fund public services, according to Garcia Richard.