Wyoming Liberty Group
CHEYENNE WY: The Wyoming Liberty Group released the Budget second reading amendment vote scores for Wyoming legislators today. This ranks legislators on frugality as the Wyoming budget moves through the amendment process.
“The Wyoming government’s operational budget has a multi-million dollar deficit and is dipping into the rainy day fund,” said Maureen Bader, WyLiberty economist and study lead. “Which legislators are thrifty and working to bring the budget in line with available funding, and which are pushing the budget over the edge for a deep dive into the rainy day fund? We created this database to find out.”
Wyoming's general appropriations budget primarily funds agency spending. To bring agency spending more into line with plummeting revenues, the Joint Appropriations Committee developed a so-called austerity plan. If only. Small cutlets to budget increases won't prevent panic tax hikes. The legislature must not leave a legacy of debt and higher taxes to future generations.
The capital construction part of the Wyoming Budget got its own budget this time. The problem? The state doesn't have enough money to fund the building boondoggle list. What to do? Use the pennies from heaven - those dropped into state coffers from the Abandoned Mine Land Fund. This creates an even bigger problem though. The state lost the AML funds last time for the same type of building boondoggles it plans to use the current AML funds for.
With Wyoming’s traditional funds falling faster than a brakeless coal car on an oily rail, the Joint Appropriations Committee has been scrambling to find money to continue spending on building construction. Then, like pennies from heaven, the state’s federal delegation managed to get the federal government to return the Abandoned Mine Land (AML) funds it slipped into its pocket to fuel its own runaway spending.
When it comes to budget building, actions speak louder than words. Legislators talk about spending restraint, but when they continue to funnel depleting funds at golf courses, you've got to wonder just how serious they are.
From a rainy day fund raid to cutlets to agency budgets, if political will for serious reform remains on the sidelines, look for spenders to call for ‘alternative revenue sources,’ and you know what that means.
Would the federal government ever renege on its promise to continue funding a program? Never, you say? The Wyoming Family Literacy Program at the Community College Commission is a good example of a costly entitlement program that lost its federal funding, leaving the entire tab to the Wyoming taxpayer. But the story gets even worse. This program is a costly duplication of other programs and more, it doesn’t meet its goals. The Joint Appropriations Committee made the right decision when it defunded this program.