Wyoming Liberty Group
With just two weeks remaining in the legislative session, the forces of socialized medicine were defeated, at least for now. After losing decisively in the Wyoming Senate and finding no traction in the Wyoming House, Medicaid Expansion supporters tried to ram this policy through with an amendment to the budget bill. Amendment 31 of HB0001 failed overwhelmingly, with 41 Nays and only 15 Ayes. Supporters cited the jobs it would create as well as increased federal funding for the state of Wyoming.
Doublespeak (def) language that deliberately disguises, distorts, or reverses the meaning of words.
Great minds have once again taken up an important question – should the state sanction the use of a mythical creature as a tourism ploy. Eye rolling aside, the term ploy also seems to apply to a new state bureaucracy, the Lottery Corporation. Turns out the revenue from the Lottery Corporation may be just as mythical as the jackalope.
Facing a state budget deficit, declining revenues and the desire to continue spending, Gov. Mead asked, “What constitutes a rainy day?” This thinly veiled call to raid the state’s rainy day account to fund his spending priorities was ignored by the legislature. Instead, the legislature began the search for more revenues by developing a task force called Vision 2020. But if the legislature keeps its focus on revenue mining instead of spending withdrawal, it is merely delaying the rainy day fund raid –or worse, it is leaving a legacy of debt and higher taxes to our children and grandchildren.
The two most recent reports from CREG, the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, tell of a mounting revenue problem for the state government. This has now led to the introduction of a bill - S122 - to the ongoing legislative session that calls for the formation of a group to find a solution to the problem.
Like the beautiful voices of the Sirens of Greek mythology, large savings accounts are luring Wyoming’s ship of state to fiscal doom. The deficit in Wyoming’s traditional spending accounts has increased from a relatively miniscule $4.4 million to a whopping $217 million, for a total deficit of $222 million in Wyoming’s 2015-16 biennium budget.
Has this deficit motivated Gov. Mead to call for lower spending? No. Instead of asking agencies to tighten their belts, or even reducing his own additional spending request of $156 million, the governor upped his supplemental by almost $10 million, leaving the state in a deficit position of $389 million for the biennium.
An early warning signal started blinking back in October 2014 to alert Wyomingites about the effect of falling minerals prices on the state budget. The blinking has now turned into a frenetic flashing. The October revenue shortfall of $4.4 million for the 2015-16 budget now sits at $222 million. As a result, legislators must not only reject new spending that would add to this deficit, they must cut the current budgets of state agencies.
Two news stories about elections and voting rights emerged in the press over the Thanksgiving weekend. One story is about the future of direct elections right here in Wyoming. The other story came from Hong Kong, where pro-democracy demonstrators have been protesting for the right to directly elect the Chief Executive by universal suffrage since September 2014. This demand for free leadership elections sounds familiar to all Americans, whose founding fathers also wisely included protections against the tyranny of the majority in the republic they established. It is also instructive for Wyoming residents who may be asked to surrender the right to vote for the chief state education executive.