Wyoming Liberty Group
Wyoming faces a multi-million dollar deficit in the 2017-18 biennium and the specter of plummeting revenue looms large on the horizon. Why then, is the State Loan and Investment Board (SLIB) about to rubber stamp funding to help lift a new $18 million terminal off the ground at an airport that just last year lost 50 percent of its customer seating capacity and has no hope of takeoff anytime soon? Government does a bad job of picking winners and with all the problems with the airline industry, constructing a new airport terminal in Cheyenne will undoubtedly leave us with a white elephant we can ill afford.
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.
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?
Wyoming’s two largest cities are currently struggling to define how city leadership will work in the near future. Cheyenne’s City Council is pressing forward with a proposal to strip the elected mayor of most of his authority in favor of a city administrator that the City Council will hire. Casper’s City Council must also find a new City Manager to take office later this year because the current manager is retiring in November.
As dreams of palaces turn into nightmares, Wyoming’s Capitol renovation project muddles along to fiscal disaster. After paying millions to design and architectural consultants and having state employees work on the project for more than a year, the committee has decided it’s time to hire someone to manage the project. But instead of hiring someone to translate the committee’s vision of sugar plums into reality, it should return to the original basic renovation, delete the executive building from the equation and cut out last minute costly niceties.
This is the second of two articles on the July 7, 2015 Capitol Building Restoration Oversight Committee meeting. To read the first installment, please click here.
During Capitol Building Restoration Oversight committee meetings, Representative Kermit Brown has waxed worriedly about scope creep, and rightly so. In many construction projects, and particularly common in those funded by taxpayers, random musings find their way into the plan and the project’s scope can spiral from a basic renovation to a palatial reconstruction. But instead of worrying about how to rein in scope creep, Rep. Brown’s worries seem more concerned with appropriating money to fund it. To ensure our children and grandchildren are free from a legacy of debt and higher taxes as a result of Capitol Renovation overdrive, the Oversight committee must excise all palatial visions and get back to the basic renovation originally proposed. The people of Wyoming cannot afford to fund a monument to the egos of some legislators.