Jon Clark, a former economist to the Legislature and current state cabinet secretary, was appointed on Wednesday to manage New Mexico’s substantial $49 billion savings and trust accounts as the State Investment Officer. An Albuquerque native, Clark is now responsible for overseeing significant financial assets, including the New Mexico land grant permanent fund. This fund, which has been largely built from petroleum production on state trust lands since the 1970s, supports schools, hospitals, and other public institutions.
The State Investment Council, an 11-member board comprising elected and appointed officials with Governor Michelle Lujan Grisham as chair, undertook a nationwide search for this role, attracting over 80 candidates. Clark, who assumed the role of acting cabinet secretary at the Economic Development Department in 2019, has been instrumental in administering annual incentives worth millions. These incentives aim to create private-sector jobs and include job-training grants and film production rebates.
Before joining the Economic Development Department, Clark served as an analyst and chief economist in the Legislature’s budget and accountability office. He replaces Steve Moises, who retired on October 1 after a 13-year tenure, and will earn an annual salary of $285,000.
The management of New Mexico’s state investments has become increasingly vital due to a surge in state government income from oil and natural gas production in the Permian Basin. This region spans southeastern New Mexico and parts of western Texas. The state’s financial strategy includes increasing annual distributions from the land grant fund to public schools and early childhood education programs, as approved by voters last year. Additionally, lawmakers have been earmarking billions in surplus state income for various trust accounts annually, preparing for potential declines in global oil demand.
Clark will also oversee New Mexico’s early childhood education trust, established in 2020. This fund, already holding about $6 billion, aims to generate investment earnings to support the expansion of public preschool, no-cost child care, and home nurse visits for infants. As State Investment Officer, Clark’s role is pivotal in shaping the financial future of New Mexico’s public programs and managing the state’s growing wealth from its natural resources.