Wyoming Liberty Group
With mineral tax revenue plummeting, the Wyoming government is madly conjuring up schemes to keep spending at all time highs. One boondoggle approved during the 2015 legislative session involves borrowing money to build a coal terminal on the West Coast to support Wyoming coal exports to Asia. But if the private sector is dropping out of these projects, perhaps forcing the people of Wyoming to go into debt to fund them is a bad idea. Here’s a thought; instead of dreaming up revenue generating schemes with little chance of success, Wyoming’s government should bring spending down to a level the people can afford to fund.
If the governor decides to go with panic tax hikes, he might want to look at what happened to Alberta’s conservative-in-name-only government to see the result of that losing strategy. May 28, 2015
In Governor Mead’s 2015 supplemental budget, the governor called on the legislature to set up a reserve account for an industrial park, and the legislature complied with a $5 million appropriation. The idea comes from the Industrial Heartland in Alberta, Canada, an industrial park funded by the provincial and various local governments to attract oil and gas companies to the province. Although the governor has waxed eloquent on the Alberta government’s use of tax dollars to attract value-added oil and gas activity to the province to create jobs, the Industrial Heartland is but one example of a project financed by a government that lost its way, and has now paid the price at the polls.
- Wyoming needs more than budget trickery
The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) released its April 2015 update, and the situation is not rosy. The update shows Wyoming state tax revenue collected between July 1, 2014 and March 2015, and how the revenue collection differed from expectations. It also includes what we can hope for the future. While revenue collections are for the most part slightly ahead of expectations, dark clouds are forming on the horizon.
Wyoming’s State Capitol renovation project is in trouble, and spin won’t fix it. That’s why a $200,000, three-year communications contract to a well-known Cheyenne firm to sell the project raised a few eyebrows. Legislators questioned whether the project should even go ahead, as the design itself is a long way from finalized. With budget deficits and funding uncertainty, is it right to spend money on propaganda for a project with problems no communications plan could fix?
Ever since David King sued the federal government for illegally subsidizing health insurance payments on federal exchanges, governors in states with federal exchanges have scrambled to make contingency plans. Reactions ranged from Bobby Jindal of Louisiana consulting Congressional leaders on passing an alternative to Obamacare, to Governor Snyder of Michigan demanding his state’s legislature create a state-run insurance exchange in order to continue receiving federal insurance support. Fortunately, Congress is crafting contingency plans to offer immediate relief for millions of individuals currently receiving subsidies. These Congressional plans would grant states flexibility to determine the best insurance policies for their residents. This is an opportunity for Wyoming to make substantial health insurance reforms that lower premiums and expand coverage.