Wyoming Liberty Group
Government budget time at both the City of Cheyenne and Laramie County show just what their priority is – pay hikes for government workers. City and county councilors sure are generous with other peoples’ money!
The City’s pay hike proposal would cost taxpayers about $615,000 and the County’s about $1.7 million. These proposals come with some controversy. The Cheyenne City council’s 2014 budget was rejected primarily because of a disagreement on the form of the employee pay hike. The County budget pay hike priority only came to light after the information was leaked by a concerned county councilor.
In their latest Regional and State Employment Summary, the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) has some bad news for Wyoming:
In April, nonfarm payroll employment increased in 30 states, decreased in 18 states and the District of Columbia, and was unchanged in 2 states. … Over the year, nonfarm employment increased in 47 states and the District of Columbia and decreased in 3 states. The largest over-the-year percentage increases occurred in North Dakota (+3.7 percent) and Utah (+3.5 percent). The largest over-the-year percentage decreases in employment occurred in Wyoming (-0.5 percent) and Maine (-0.3 percent).
The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration reports that Internal Revenue Service employees began using “inappropriate criteria” in 2010 when considering the applications of Tea Party organizations for 501(c)(4) tax exempt status. This included subjecting groups with “Tea Party,” “Patriots,” or “9/12” in their titles to such “unnecessary information requests” as the political affiliations of the groups’ officers and employment information.
Mission creep: the gradual process by which a campaign or mission’s objectives change over time, esp. with undesirable consequences.
When the Game and Fish Commission was created by legislation passed in 1921, the role of the Game and Fish department was to protect, propagate, preserve and distribute “Game animals, birds and fish of this State.” Now, the department’s mission has morphed to “conserving wildlife – serving people.” This loose definition helps to explain the expansion of the Game and Fish department’s activities to pretty much anything that could possibly have anything to do with any animal or person in the state.
Tourism is a lucrative industry that employs lots of people. Chris Brown, the executive director of the Wyoming Travel Industry Coalition, claims that if the government stops funding tourism advertising, the industry will lose market share and the state will lose revenue and jobs. Advertising works to increase the demand for goods and services an industry provides, no disagreement there. However, who should pay for that industry’s advertising – Wyoming taxpayers or the industry itself?
A blog written by Amy Edmonds and me (“Tax Revenues Suffer from Sluggish Wyoming Economy”) about the tax revenue structure of the Wyoming state government gave rise to important questions. Among them, some people have questioned why we simply cannot run state government on equity-based revenue and quit taxing people altogether.
by Amy Edmonds, Sven Larson
Note: Commentary updated to reflect correction to the source of the April 25, 2013 Memorandum, published by the Legislative Service Office, not the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group as originally reported.
Recent employment data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) show that the private sector of the U.S. economy has increased its number of employees by 3.4 percent since 2011. This is weak for a recovery, and you would expect that a low-tax state like Wyoming could beat that.