Wyoming Liberty Group
The state of Wyoming earmarks tobacco settlement funds to certain programs — and guess what. The programs cost more than the revenue they receive. As you might expect, the knee jerk reaction to this is to raise tobacco taxes to cover the shortfall. But let’s take a closer look.
Governor Mead announced he will cut approximately $200 million from the current fiscal year’s spending. This apparent burst of fiscal conservatism came as a result of a clause in the 2014 budget bill directing the governor to review agency budgets and reduce them if it looks like the fall in tax revenue will result in a deficit. Revenue has been on a downswing for a year now, but Governor Mead’s main solutions will only dig a deeper fiscal hole.
When the Wyoming Business Council proposes a handout for a private business, the focus is on the positive—jobs, economic diversification, the flag and apple pie. When it brings these proposals before the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB), the costs of these handouts—wasted resources, cronyism and the damage to unsubsidized competition—go unmentioned. The proposed $407,000 handout to the City of Chugwater is a good example of how attracting a tax consuming business to town wastes resources and worse, it could harm a taxpaying business. When this proposal comes before the SLIB, it must decline to rubber stamp this handout.
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.
Ever since Congress passed Obamacare in 2010, each April 15, the dreaded tax return filing day, brings ever more complexity to our federal tax code. This year’s complexity is the employer mandate, the most harmful of the law’s tax provisions because it spells trouble for businesses and workers alike. If the Supreme Court sides with the plaintiffs in King v. Burwell, the mandate becomes a lot harder to enforce and could free states from its distortions entirely.
In March, the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in King v. Burwell, a case that could decide the fate of Obamacare in Wyoming and around the country. The case centers on whether the federal government has the authority to issue tax credits to subsidize insurance on exchanges that it has established. If the chief justices rule against the federal government, it could mean the end not just for Obamacare’s subsidies, but its mandates and regulations as well. And herein lies an opportunity for advocates for patient-centered health reform to start making real changes to the way healthcare is financed and delivered.
Imagine you have ten accounts you allocate your paycheck to every month. At bill time, you take money from two of these accounts, call them your traditional accounts, to pay your bills. One day, your paycheck suddenly plunges and you don’t have enough flowing into these traditional accounts. No problem, you can just divert the flow from some other account into your traditional accounts and pay your bills that way. All appears good—but is it?