Wyoming Liberty Group
Wyoming faces a multi-million dollar deficit in the 2017-18 biennium and the specter of plummeting revenue looms large on the horizon. Why then, is the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) about to rubber stamp funding to help lift a new $18 million terminal off the ground at an airport that just last year lost 50 percent of its customer seating capacity and has no hope of takeoff anytime soon? Government does a bad job of picking winners and with all the problems with the airline industry, constructing a new airport terminal in Cheyenne will undoubtedly leave us with a white elephant we can ill afford.
A spoonful of rain won’t help the deficit go down.
The Pew Charitable Trust presented Wyoming’s Revenue Committee its report on the volatility of Wyoming’s tax revenue and its implications for the size of the Rainy Day Fund.
You might wonder why the Pew Charitable Trust is providing this report to Wyoming legislators. Well, in addition to doing it for free, Pew already published a report on tax revenue volatility in the 50 states, so seems a likely choice for a more in depth review of Wyoming. Pew is a nonprofit organization funded from seven individual charitable funds established by Sun Oil Company heirs. Pews goals include improving public policy by conducting rigorous analysis, and informing the public with data that illuminate world shaping issues and trends.
Your Tax Dollars at Work
(This is the second of two articles on Wyoming’s Capitol renovation project’s Capitol Oversight Group and its lack of co-ordination with the Advisory Task Force. You can read part one here.)
Paying twice for the same thing could bankrupt a company. When government pays twice, the costs falls to the taxpayer. This means the initiators of wasteful government spending go unpunished and as a result, it happens with budget busting frequency. In a recent example of wasteful duplication, the Capitol Oversight Group hired an outside project manager, MOCA Systems, to, among other things, develop guiding principles for the Capitol renovation project. Their work was made easier because guiding principles already existed. Just how many re-writes of guiding principles does one project need?
• Majority agree:
• Wyoming would be more prosperous if people made own spending decisions;
• Families unlikely to benefit from corporate welfare schemes;
• Private sector better at determining potential of new technology than government;
• Are unwilling to pay higher electricity costs to attract data centers.
• People of Wyoming say put excess tax revenue into their hands instead of government.
CHEYENNE: Wyoming Liberty Group released the results of a survey today that asked 500 likely voters in Wyoming their opinion on the state government’s use of tax dollars to benefit private companies.
As the minerals boom turned to bust, so did the revenue supporting big government in Wyoming. Now our politicians have a choice. Should they:
- cut spending back to a level Wyoming taxpayers can afford;
- use revenues hoarded in savings accounts to continue spending at ever higher levels until savings run out, or;
- give money to private companies to magically increase state revenue?
The politically expedient choice at the moment appears to be: try to increase state revenues with a scheme known as corporate welfare.
As dreams of palaces turn into nightmares, Wyoming’s Capitol renovation project muddles along to fiscal disaster. After paying millions to design and architectural consultants and having state employees work on the project for more than a year, the committee has decided it’s time to hire someone to manage the project. But instead of hiring someone to translate the committee’s vision of sugar plums into reality, it should return to the original basic renovation, delete the executive building from the equation and cut out last minute costly niceties.
With mineral tax revenue plummeting, the Wyoming government is madly conjuring up schemes to keep spending at all time highs. One boondoggle approved during the 2015 legislative session involves borrowing money to build a coal terminal on the West Coast to support Wyoming coal exports to Asia. But if the private sector is dropping out of these projects, perhaps forcing the people of Wyoming to go into debt to fund them is a bad idea. Here’s a thought; instead of dreaming up revenue generating schemes with little chance of success, Wyoming’s government should bring spending down to a level the people can afford to fund.