Wyoming Liberty Group
In my Op-Ed in The Hill today I explain why we need to add a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution:
Inevitably, a debt crisis is coming. We know it will happen - the only uncertain thing about it is to forecast when it will happen. Practically no economist was able to predict the unfolding of the current European government debt crisis. On the contrary, many forecasts were still predicting “business as usual” as late as in 2007. It is just as difficult to say when the U.S. debt becomes an acute crisis. All we know is that the crisis will come. That is as certain as an earthquake in California. And that makes the Obama budget all the more irresponsible. Fortunately, there are some encouraging signs of fledgling fiscal responsibility in Congress. The GOP budget for 2016 slowly reduces the deficit over nine years and balances the budget by 2025. This is a welcome change for the better. There is just one caveat. The GOP budget won't become actual policy unless the Republicans win the next five Congressional elections and the next three presidential elections. We need a better insurance policy against the looming debt earthquake. It is time to reopen the case for a balanced budget amendment to the constitution.
In Governor Mead’s 2015 supplemental budget, the governor called on the legislature to set up a reserve account for an industrial park, and the legislature complied with a $5 million appropriation. The idea comes from the Industrial Heartland in Alberta, Canada, an industrial park funded by the provincial and various local governments to attract oil and gas companies to the province. Although the governor has waxed eloquent on the Alberta government’s use of tax dollars to attract value-added oil and gas activity to the province to create jobs, the Industrial Heartland is but one example of a project financed by a government that lost its way, and has now paid the price at the polls.
- Wyoming needs more than budget trickery
The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) released its April 2015 update, and the situation is not rosy. The update shows Wyoming state tax revenue collected between July 1, 2014 and March 2015, and how the revenue collection differed from expectations. It also includes what we can hope for the future. While revenue collections are for the most part slightly ahead of expectations, dark clouds are forming on the horizon.
Wyoming’s State Capitol renovation project is in trouble, and spin won’t fix it. That’s why a $200,000, three-year communications contract to a well-known Cheyenne firm to sell the project raised a few eyebrows. Legislators questioned whether the project should even go ahead, as the design itself is a long way from finalized. With budget deficits and funding uncertainty, is it right to spend money on propaganda for a project with problems no communications plan could fix?
Throughout the debate to expand Medicaid during the 2015 Legislative Session, opponents repeatedly claimed that the federal government couldn’t be trusted to keep its promise to cover 90 percent of Medicaid Expansion’s costs. So it should come as no surprise that the Obama Administration has now broached the idea of reneging on its existing financial promises. In a letter to the Deputy Secretary of Medicaid in Florida, the head of the federal Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (or CMS) threatened to withhold funding to a Medicaid pilot program in the Sunshine State unless it expanded Medicaid. If successful, the federal government would have found a way to undermine the Supreme Court’s 2012 decision on Medicaid Expansion and foist a federal program that delivers woefully inferior healthcare onto millions more patients.
Imagine you have ten accounts you allocate your paycheck to every month. At bill time, you take money from two of these accounts, call them your traditional accounts, to pay your bills. One day, your paycheck suddenly plunges and you don’t have enough flowing into these traditional accounts. No problem, you can just divert the flow from some other account into your traditional accounts and pay your bills that way. All appears good—but is it?
Bills to hate and bills to love—this session had it all. With a large and growing budget deficit, the supplemental budget bill turned out better than expected. After the legislature bailed out Governor Mead’s deficit budget, it left a small budget surplus. However a large part of cash used to bail out the state’s deficit came from one-time funds. With dark clouds on the horizon for 2017-18, what might we expect for the next budget session?