It would remove politicians from State Investment Council
This may be the year that politicians finally are removed from the board that manages $16.5 billion in state investments.
A revived bill to put only investment professionals on the 11-member State Investment Council cleared the Senate Rules Committee on Friday.
Sens. Steve Neville, R-Aztec, right, and Timothy Keller, D-Albuquerque, again are sponsoring the initiative. Keller said he was confident that Gov. Susana Martinez would sign this bill.
Martinez, a Republican, vetoed a reform bill two years ago because it would have removed her from the investment council but left other politicians on board. New Mexico is the only state whose governor chairs the board responsible for investments, Keller said.
In addition to the governor, New Mexico law also gives seats on the investment council to the state treasurer and state land commissioner. Under the bill, they also would be removed and replaced by professionals with at least 10 years of investment management experience.
The bill would give the governor four appointments to the investment council and one each to the treasurer and land commissioner.
Should someone in one of those jobs decide to appoint himself, the maneuver probably would be blocked. That is because the state Senate must confirm appointees, and it would only confirm investment professionals for the council, Neville said.
The Senate Rules Committee, at the suggestion of Chairwoman Linda Lopez, D-Albuquerque, amended the bill slightly to give powers for one appointment each to the majority leaders of the state Senate and state House of Representatives.
Neville’s original bill called for the speaker of the House and president pre tem of the Senate to make those selections. Lopez said the change was consistent with recent moves that gave the leaders of each political caucus say-so on selections to other state boards.
Leaders of the minority party in each house of the Legislature also would get to make an appointment.
Neville has been trying for seven years to reform the State Investment Council. He said the agency was plagued by a “pay-to-play” system and other misdeeds under former governor Bill Richardson, but had been performing well with all the scrutiny from legislators in recent years.
Next stop for the reform bill is the Senate Finance Committee. The proposal is Senate Bill 9.