Wyoming Liberty Group
Gov. Mead’s budget prioritizes spending increases, and that’s bad news for taxpayers. One priority is the proposed increase in government worker salaries as a way to stem worker turnover. But hiking state salaries would mean an even greater increase to government worker pension plans, paid for primarily by taxpayers, many of whom may not even have a pension plan. This session the legislature has the opportunity to stem the spending tide and ensure taxpayers are treated like more than just a wallet for the governor’s spending spree, by rejecting the pay hike for government workers.
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.
Let us make one thing clear right now: there is no such thing as income “inequality”. There are income differences, but no income “inequalities”.
The very term “inequality” has been constructed to imply a moral content in differences between people’s incomes (or wealth). Every time we use the term we imply – deliberately or inadvertently – that income differences are problematic and need to go away. But if the premise of any discussion of income differences is that the differences are somehow immoral, then there really is not going to be a dispassionate conversation about those differences.
Some politicians, bureaucrats and a cabal of special interest groups spent months wringing their hand over the state of Wyoming’s highways and called for a higher fuel tax to maintain them. To grease this tax grab through the legislature, tax supporters said all the money collected by the fuel tax increase would go to roads. The bill passed, and now it seems some of the increase will not go to roads. Wyoming’s State Parks and Cultural Resources (SPCR) will get a chunk of the higher fuel tax bonanza.
As shown by the latest state expenditure report from the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), states are slowly becoming more dependent on the federal government for their revenues. Over time this erodes the independence of the states, slowly turning them into federal spending agencies. Dependency makes them more vulnerable to macroeconomic fluctuations and exposes them to fiscal-policy shocks when Congress tries to balance the federal budget.
In my first installment on state spending I reported that during the recession states have grown notably more dependent on the federal government. In 2008, the states got just over 26 percent of all their revenue from federal funds; in 2013 the National Association of State Budget Officers estimates that 31 percent of states’ spending is paid for by the federal government.