NM Land Commissioner joins MLG in opposing “democracy”

New Mexico politicians have a tendency to tout “democracy” but only if they get their way. One might think that this would be simple since the entire State is “blue” and controlled by Democrats, but Gov. Lujan Grisham has repeatedly rejected the Legislature’s actions including her latest attempt to eradicate 4-day school weeks.

Now, New Mexico Land Commissioner Stephanie Garcia Richard has decided that the Democrat-controlled Legislature’s refusal to increase royalty (tax) rates gives her the “green light” to refuse to lease certain prime oil and gas lands under her control. Someone who knew nothing about New Mexico politics might expect a standoff like this to occur in a state with a partisan split between the Land Office and the Legislature, but they are all “progressive” Democrats.

Will Garcia Richard relent or is she going to hold these leases “hostage” until she gets her way in the Legislature? Will legal action bring the Commissioner into line? While Garcia Richard claims to be acting for the benefit of NM school children to get the “best deal,” the reality is that oil and gas is taxed differently in different states. New Mexico, for example, imposes its gross receipts tax (levied at 7 or 8%) on numerous aspects of the oil and gas industry. This is only one of many differences that make direct royalty rate comparisons a challenge.

All 112 members of the Legislature are up for election this fall. A more moderate/conservative Legislature likely won’t give the Land Commissioner what she wants.