CHEYENNE — Governor Mark Gordon and the members of the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) have unanimously supported the submission of a bid to purchase Wyoming land with a goal of returning additional revenue to the state.
The non-binding bid is only another step towards the purchase, and is not final. The bid will now be submitted to Occidental Petroleum for the purchase of land and minerals, and may include the entirety of the land offered or a portion.
The Board’s vote requires additional public meetings prior to final approval of any purchase, the highest possible return, and a report detailing non-confidential aspects of the transaction. The non-binding bid authorized by the SLIB is confidential at this time to protect the integrity of the bid process and to allow the board to submit a bid.
“This is a unique and substantial opportunity to invest in Wyoming-based revenue-generating assets,” Governor Gordon said. “We owed it to the people of Wyoming to properly evaluate its potential, listen to their concerns and weigh carefully whether this investment would benefit Wyoming’s portfolio. That is our fiduciary responsibility to our state– to make sure we get the highest rate of return for the citizens of Wyoming,”
The Governor and the four other members of the SLIB (Secretary of State Ed Buchanan, Treasurer Curt Meier, Auditor Kristi Racines and Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow) took public comment during a special meeting and received input from financial experts, including Chief Investment Officer Patrick Fleming and the State’s investment consultant. They emphasized that final approval would only come if there was agreement that the state was likely to see increased investment returns from the purchase.
“As the Governor mentioned, our job is to maximize the return on our investments,” Treasurer Curt Meier said. “If we can negotiate a purchase price in line with the recommendations of the Investment Funds Committee and avoid an over-concentration of illiquidity, this opportunity could be a great addition to the State’s portfolio and benefit our citizens for decades.”
The Governor and SLIB’s intention at this time is to use funds already invested through Wyoming’s Permanent Funds for the purchase, if the bid is accepted. Those funds are constitutionally tied up and the core of the funds is available for prudent investments only, as guided by state statute, and is not available to help offset the current budget shortfalls or to directly pay for the costs of running the State Government.
The state’s bid submission is due to Occidental Petroleum on July 8.