Wyoming Liberty Group
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.
“We need to look like we are doing something for that community.”
Wyoming Sen. Wasserberger, Joint Appropriations Committee, January 26, 2015
Facing declining mineral tax revenues, the desire to continue spending and the inability, so far, to raid the rainy day fund, Gov. Mead’s push to diversify the economy to create jobs and generate more tax revenue shifted into overdrive. His direction? The governor made yet another announcement about an investment by his chosen one – Microsoft’s data center. Yes, Microsoft is investing more in the state, but in exchange, the governor is doling out more corporate welfare. Corporate welfare is a costly way to appear to be doing something to diversify the economy to create jobs and increase tax revenue.
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.