DALLAS - Amid falling revenues from oil and gas, New Mexico has postponed selling $500 million of tax revenue anticipation notes for the third time this year.

The state previously attempted to sell the notes in July and September. Market conditions were dicey in July, and the severe credit freeze hit in September.

This time, declining oil and gas revenues, along with anticipated lower sales tax income are to blame, said deputy state treasurer Mark Valdez.

"Since our last revenue estimate, oil and gas prices have come down significantly, and sales taxes may be less than anticipated," he said.

Revenue projections that were used in the preliminary official statement were based on oil at $94 per barrel and natural gas at $6.75 per thousand cubic feet, Valdez said. Yesterday, oil futures were priced below $60 per barrel and natural gas was around $6.38 per 1,000 cubic feet.

"For oil, each $1 change is worth $4 million to the state," he said. "And for gas, each dime change is worth $11 million."

Valdez said the state expects to issue the Trans after a new revenue estimate coming the second week in December.

New Mexico typically issues two Trans deals a year to cover government operating costs amid uneven revenue flows. So far, the inability to issue the notes has not hurt the state's ability to meet its obligations, according to Valdez.

"Our general fund has a core portfolio and a liquidity portfolio," he said. "I think we may just have to dig deeper into our core portfolio to maintain liquidity."

The notes are needed to carry the state through its current fiscal year ending June 30, 2009.

"Although current cash flow projections for the general fund appropriation account, net of disbursements, reflect a negative $181 million ending cash balance at June 30, 2009, gross general fund revenue coverage of the set-aside amounts by pledged first money should be strong in each principal segregation month," analysts at Standard & Poor's noted. "Alternate liquidity exists in tax money regularly held in a suspense account a month before being released to the general fund and in other borrowable funds in the general fund investment portfolio."

Although New Mexico reaped a windfall with soaring oil and gas prices in the first half of the year, the drop in the second half is disrupting the revenue picture. As a state that rarely experiences boom-bust cycles, New Mexico never saw much of a housing bubble and was therefore able to escape the collapse that hit neighboring Arizona and Colorado so hard this year. However, sales revenue is expected to suffer.

Among states hardest hit by the credit crunch has been California, which had to delay its plans to sell $7 billion of revenue anticipation notes, then sold $5 billion of the notes in October with plans to sell another $2 billion later. However, officials now sees no way to sell the remaining debt without major actions on the state budget.

In August, Texas sold $6.4 billion of Trans, the state's largest issue in four years.

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