Wyoming Liberty Group
Back in 1963, in one of his greatest hits, Bob Dylan asked: “How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?” Today, with the looming fiscal crisis in the Wyoming state budget, Dylan might have asked: “How many times must a legislator look at the budget before he can see the problem?”
There are always more short-term rewards, tangible and intangible, in promoting status quo than in proposing change. Human nature has an inherent tendency toward preserving predictable, static conditions of existence; we build our societies around a preference for the predictable.
The latest employment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) confirms two solid trends that I have previously reported on:
- The national recovery continues; but
- Wyoming is still doing poorly by national comparison.
Let us look at the good national news first. The BLS numbers for February 2015 (which are still preliminary) present an encouraging picture of private-sector job creation around the country. In every state except West Virginia, the private sector either exceeds its number of employees from before the recession, or is within a few percent of recovering all jobs lost.
Next month the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) will present yet another quarterly report on the state government's finances. It is not exactly a wild guess that the report will reinforce the gloomy lookout for the state budget. Little if anything has changed for the better since the January report.
As I explained last week, one of the effects of the comparatively strong U.S. economy is that the dollar grows stronger vs. other major currencies. The appreciation of the dollar has been particularly noticeable vs. the euro: in May last year a euro cost almost $1.39; last week the exchange rate was down to $1.06 per euro.
The big news in the global economy right now is that the U.S. dollar and the euro are very close to parity, in other words one dollar for one euro. Since its launch a decade and a half ago the euro has been the higher valued of the two currencies, with an exchange rate in the $1.20-$1.30 bracket for most of the time.
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?