The Texas General Land Office is the oldest state agency in Texas, established by the Constitution of the Republic of Texas.
Established by the Republic of Texas immediately after the Texas Revolution in 1836, the position of Land Commissioner predates the position of Governor and other state offices established by annexation in 1845. The Commissioner serves a four year term, elected statewide.
NOTE: The titles "Commissioner of the Texas General Land Office" and "Texas Land Commissioner" are used interchangeably. There is no Land Commission.
In 1836, the Republic of Texas Congress formed the General Land Office to manage the public domain. The charge was to collect and keep records, provide maps and surveys, and issue titles. In addition to encouraging settlement of public lands via land grants, scrip redeemable in land was used to raise cash to finance the Texas Revolution and the expenses of the young nation.
Because the federal government would not take Texas' land as debt payments, Texas entered the Union owning its public land. Also, unlike other Gulf states, Texas owned its submerged lands - or tidelands - three marine leagues (about 10.3 miles) into the Gulf of Mexico. This proved to be a bounty that would yield rich rewards for the Lone Star State for generations.
The Texas Constitution of 1876 set aside half of Texas' remaining public lands to establish a Permanent School Fund (PSF), to help finance public schools. State legislators intended for this land to be sold and the proceeds be deposited into the PSF. Over the next century, deposits to the PSF would be an inexhaustible source of revenue because only interest income from the fund could be spent and would be apportioned among the state's public schools.
Today, the Texas General Land Office is focused on maximizing and diversifying revenue sources for the Permanent School Fund. For instance, the Land Office is leading the charge on the development of renewable energy on state lands as a sustainable source of earnings for the PSF. With historic leases for offshore wind energy, solar and geothermal, the Land Office is helping diversify revenue for future generations of Texas schoolchildren.
With over 175 years of history, the Texas General Land Office is moving into the future and finding new and innovative ways to serve the people of Texas..