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A Budget Cut by Half

  • The Wyoming Tourism Board

The Wyoming Tourism Board is a Wyoming government agency that promotes tourism in Wyoming. Its role is to market the state for the benefit of the tourism industry and other businesses that could do their own marketing with their own money, but I digress. Although pretty much every government seems to think its role involves subsidizing the tourism sector, this type of subsidization is nothing more than corporate welfare and is a good candidate for real budget cuts.

The Wyoming Tourism Board gets most of its funds to operate and for capital construction from the general fund. Its 2013-14 biennium budget is $28.7 million. Its eight percent budget cut is $1.023 million. But eight percent of $28.7 million is about $2.3 million.

Feeling a bit shorted? Here’s why.

The governor’s dreaded eight percent budget cut is a cut, not to an agency’s budget, but to its 2014 general fund appropriation.

This rather Orwellian eight percent budget cut is calculated like so.  From the $28.7 million we take out one-time funding of $3.16 million and divide the result by two, and we get the 2014 general fund appropriation of $12. 8 million. Eight percent of that is $1.023 million, which is, in fact, what they say they will cut.

What sort of sacrifices is the Wyoming Tourism office planning to make? It plans to cut $123,000 from supportive services including: promotion, printing and postage and reduced in and out-of-state travel for staff and the board, and two fewer tradeshows.  It also plans to cut $900,000 from contractual services, which means less research and fewer signage grants, sponsorships and contract services.

The Wyoming Tourism Board includes film and video production, and as I have written elsewhere, is not subject to any cuts at all, although it should be.

And in a classic example of one agency working against the interests of another, Wyoming Tourism notes in its budget narrative that if gas prices go up, say for example, from a gas tax hike, travel to Wyoming will decline. This would reduce the income of the businesses taxpayers are being forced to subsidize. Talk about a lose-lose proposition.  

The role of government is to protect individual rights, including property rights, not subsidize private businesses. Although handouts to business help politicians appear to be ‘doing something’ to benefit the economy, if they really wanted to ‘do something’ for the economy, they should get out of the way and reduce red tape and punishing taxes — and let all businesses compete on a level playing field. Sure, a particular business or industry benefits from money picked from other peoples’ pockets, but that just leaves those other people with less to spend on what they want, and this reduces demand — and jobs — someplace else.

Taxpayers, many of whom are worrying about how to make ends meet, should not be forced to subsidize business. If the government is looking to make real reductions in spending, it should start by cutting corporate welfare, and the Wyoming Tourism Board would be a good place to start.

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Sunday, 30 April 2017
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