Wyoming Liberty Group
If you think health care is expensive now, wait until you see what it costs when it’s free.
Choosing to expand Medicaid is like deciding to marry for the sake of a dream honeymoon when disillusionment is the likely outcome. Fortunately, seven members of the Joint Appropriations Committee rescued Wyoming from a looming and ill-conceived entitlement marriage by voting to strip Medicaid Expansion from the 2017-18 budget appropriations bill.
Powering through savings won’t save the state
Wyoming’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group presented its January forecast update this week. The update shows a continued fall in minerals revenue. No surprise, and given the current situation, expect more of the same as Wyoming’s budget session kicks into gear.
Current budget draws school Rainy Day Fund down to zero
All the hand wringing about the budget shortfall so far has focused on spend-as-usual government operations paid for with funds from traditional state spending accounts and augmented by a Rainy Day Fund raid. But the state has other accounts with an even bigger and more immediate problem: the K-12 education accounts. These accounts, just like the traditional accounts, are running short of cash. Governor Mead’s solution to the 2017-18 shortfall is to—wait for it—raid the school Rainy Day Fund!
Supporters of Medicaid Expansion, including Governor Matt Mead, express an unwavering belief that the federal government will actually fund this entitlement as promised. Yet Washington’s promises often become unfunded mandates. Even before the end of this year it is likely that Congress will cut federal funding for Medicaid Expansion and leave states holding the bag.
A Rainy Day Fund Raid with a Twist of Sour Lime
Wyoming stands at a fork in the road. Throughout the 2000’s, politicians played Santa Claus with a severance tax bonanza. Saving some of that windfall in a variety of savings accounts mitigated this pork-fest.
Now, as the minerals boom turns to bust, many of our elected representatives look covetously at those savings as a way to shield themselves from the difficult choices involved in limiting government to a level remaining taxpayers can afford to fund.
Halloween has passed, but it seems zombie bills come back again. One example is Representative Byrd’s Abandoned Buildings bill from the Wyoming Legislature’s 2015 General Session. The abandoned buildings bill was a direct attack on owners of historic buildings in downtown Cheyenne who have struggled for years to find profitable tenants to fill their buildings. The House Corporations Committee rightly killed the bill last session, but like all good zombies, it came back again.