Wyoming Liberty Group
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.
Wyoming’s Legislative Service Office (LSO) released a report evaluating Public Purpose Investments (PPI), the use of the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund (PWMTF) to subsidize loans in the state. The report found that PPIs returned less financially than the Treasurer’s regular portfolio. This is important because no matter how politicians try to spin the benefits, our state funds should not sacrifice returns to show favoritism to favorites. It twists the conveniently foggy notion of “public benefit” into a pretzel.
Maureen Bader and Chuck Gray discuss the Pew Foundation’s analysis of Wyoming’s Rainy Day Fund and why it will not bail out past bad spending decisions, on KVOC radio in Casper. September 11, 2015
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?
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.
Governments everywhere favor some companies over others by showering them with other people’s money. In Wyoming, the constitution forbids legislators from giving tax dollars away directly, but this hasn’t stopped indirect giveaways. One giveaway is called Public Purpose Investment, or PPI. Although sold on the basis of its supposed benefits, these corporate welfare programs hurt competition and divert money to less productive uses.