Wyoming Liberty Group
Like the beautiful voices of the Sirens of Greek mythology, large savings accounts are luring Wyoming’s ship of state to fiscal doom. The deficit in Wyoming’s traditional spending accounts has increased from a relatively miniscule $4.4 million to a whopping $217 million, for a total deficit of $222 million in Wyoming’s 2015-16 biennium budget.
Has this deficit motivated Gov. Mead to call for lower spending? No. Instead of asking agencies to tighten their belts, or even reducing his own additional spending request of $156 million, the governor upped his supplemental by almost $10 million, leaving the state in a deficit position of $389 million for the biennium.
An early warning signal started blinking back in October 2014 to alert Wyomingites about the effect of falling minerals prices on the state budget. The blinking has now turned into a frenetic flashing. The October revenue shortfall of $4.4 million for the 2015-16 budget now sits at $222 million. As a result, legislators must not only reject new spending that would add to this deficit, they must cut the current budgets of state agencies.
Close the downspout
In the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group’s (CREG) October 2014 report, it showed the General Fund and Budget Reserve Account, the two main government spending accounts, would be $4.4 million short of expectations for the 2015-16 biennium.
- Time to add some drag to the line
The Game and Fish (G&F) department provides us with a cautionary tale about what happens when an agency’s mandate creeps from “the protection, propagation, preservation and distribution of Game animals, birds and fish of this State,” to “conserving wildlife—serving people,” which could mean pretty much anything—and it does. The G&F department hasn’t seen a mandate it can’t assume, or a cost it can’t increase. How do we reel in spending at G&F?
- Potential child-privacy violator rolls in under the radar
Student performance in the government run education system in both the U.S. and Wyoming has stagnated for years. Government’s solution to the problem it created is, as usual, more government. The latest so-called solution would put your child’s lifetime school performance in a big data storage system.
- Time for Wyoming’s legislature to show leadership
Among all the talk of spending or saving the smidgen of extra money Wyoming’s government thinks it has, the concept of leaving it in the pockets of the people who earned it seems forgotten. During the Wyoming 2015-16 budget session, members of the Travel, Recreation, Wildlife & Cultural Resources committee had the opportunity to remember this option, and they did. Now it’s time for the entire legislature to do the same.
In today’s State of the State address, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead repeated the list of accolades the State of Wyoming received from a variety of organizations such as the Tax Foundation to conclude that the state of the state is strong. However, no matter how much better Wyoming performs when compared to other states, state revenue is stagnating. Now, instead of continuing his past, at least nominal, focus on budget cuts, the governor proposes to increase the cost of government using short term revenue gains.