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Politics & Government

Report: Idaho Land Board Should Rethink Commercial Investments

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Dave Thomas
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A San Francisco-based investment advising firm told Idaho’s Land Board that its commercial property investments are not a great idea. Callan Associates gave its final report to board members Tuesday. The board commissioned the company's input after receiving criticism for investing in things like a self-storage company.

The state Land Board oversees a nearly $2 billion endowment that generates about 2 percent of Idaho’s public school revenue. The board is made up of Idaho’s top elected officials. Traditionally, it has invested heavily in timber and grazing land. But recently, it has added commercial property investments.

Report: Idaho Land Board Should Rethink Commercial Investments
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Members have argued that Idaho’s constitution requires them to do whatever they can to maximize revenue for schools.

Secretary of State-elect Lawerence Denney, who joins the board next year, has been an outspoken critic of investing in commercial property.

“The constitution does say the Land Board is to try to maximize the return for the endowments,” Denney says. “However, I don’t think our forefathers envisioned us using commercial property or competing against private businesses as one of those ways of maximizing those returns.”

The Land Board, though, has competed with private companies when it's invested in timber land.

The new report does not say the board should not invest in commercial property, rather that the way the Land Board has purchased commercial property has been too risky.

Find Adam Cotterell on Twitter @CotterellAdam

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