Thursday News Roundup: NM Permanent Funds Report Double-Digit Returns

Aug 15, 2013

Gov. Martinez Unveils River Protection Plan-Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has unveiled a plan aimed at protecting the state's rivers and watersheds amid drought and wildfires.

Martinez and other state officials gathered along the Rio Grande in Bernalillo on Thursday to talk about the New Mexico River Stewardship Program.

The governor says she will pursue $1.5 million in state capital outlay funds for projects that will include clearing vegetation, replanting native species and installing erosion control.

Officials say such work will be invaluable as the state tries to make its water supplies more sustainable.

Extreme to exceptional conditions have placed New Mexico in the top spot nationally when it comes to drought. Reservoirs are at record lows and stretches of the Rio Grande and Pecos River have gone dry.

Recent wildfires also have increased fears of mudslides and flash flooding this monsoon season.

NM Permanent Funds Report Double-Digit Returns - Associated Press

New Mexico's permanent funds have grown about $1.7 billion during the past year with strong investment gains.

The State Investment Council says the Land Grant Permanent Fund had a return of about 13.2 percent in the year ending June 30, and had assets valued at more than $12 billion.

The council said the fund's performance placed it among the top third for similar large public funds.

The Severance Tax Permanent Fund had a return of 12.1 percent, but it includes economic development investments that typically lower the overall performance. The fund was valued at more than $4 billion at the end of June.

Earning from the state's investment funds provide almost 11 percent of the yearly revenue that finances public education and other government programs.

NM County Considering Prairie Dog Relocation Ban - Associated Press and the Roswell Daily Record

A southeastern New Mexico county is considering a proposal to limit the importation and relocation of prairie dogs.

The Roswell Daily Record reports that Chaves County commissioners will hold a public hearing Thursday on the plan despite pressure from animal rights advocates to endorse a relocation project.

Commissioners earlier last month declined a request by a group to capture the squirrel-like creatures and move them to Bureau of Land Management property.

The group, called Citizens for Prairie Dogs, asked for some 3,000 gallons of city water to flush the animals out of their burrows on city land to relocate them humanely.

Nearby, Curry County already has banned the transportation or importation of prairie dogs.

NM Governor Makes 2 Judicial Appointments - Associated Press

Gov. Susana Martinez has filled two magistrate court vacancies.

Her office announced Wednesday that she has appointed Keith Rogers of Dexter to the Chaves County Magistrate Court and Edward Gallegos of Las Vegas to the San Miguel County Magistrate Court.

Both vacancies were created by retirements.

Rogers is currently a hearing officer for the New Mexico Law Enforcement Academy. He graduated from the New Mexico State Police Academy and then worked his way from patrol officer to a sergeant with the narcotics investigations unit.

Gallegos is a criminal defense attorney. He previously worked as a senior trial attorney for the Office of the Fourth Judicial District Attorney. His focus was felony DWI cases.

Gallegos earned his law degree from the University of New Mexico and a bachelor's degree from New Mexico Highlands University.

Members Of NM Delegation Call For Public Forum - Associated Press

Members of New Mexico's congressional delegation are calling on federal officials to host a public forum on access to behavioral health services.

The request comes after the New Mexico Human Services Department froze payments to 15 nonprofits that provide mental health and substance abuse services. The freeze followed an audit that found a high rate of billing problems and possible mismanagement.

The state has entered into a contract with Arizona companies to take over operations and services of some of the nonprofits.

The delegates say constituents have reported that the process has disrupted care and the forum would allow them to hear directly from the public.

They sent their request to the U.S. Health and Human Services Department on Wednesday.