Wyoming Liberty Group
In an op-ed in the Wall Street Journal on April 10 Wayne Hoffman of the Idaho Freedom Foundation expressed concerns over states' dependency on federal funds. It is refreshing to see that this topic is gaining interest among free-market think tanks, although Hoffman is a bit late to the party; my first article on the subject was published by the Heritage Foundation seven years ago.
On Monday I mentioned that the Alaska state government is fighting a deep hole in their state's General Fund: after having ignored increasingly prominent signals of the state's finances being unsustainable, legislators in Juneau have now been forced to put together a panic-driven spending-cut package equal to seven percent of the General Fund.
Back in 1963, in one of his greatest hits, Bob Dylan asked: “How many times must a man look up before he can see the sky?” Today, with the looming fiscal crisis in the Wyoming state budget, Dylan might have asked: “How many times must a legislator look at the budget before he can see the problem?”
There are always more short-term rewards, tangible and intangible, in promoting status quo than in proposing change. Human nature has an inherent tendency toward preserving predictable, static conditions of existence; we build our societies around a preference for the predictable.
The latest employment statistics from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) confirms two solid trends that I have previously reported on:
- The national recovery continues; but
- Wyoming is still doing poorly by national comparison.
Let us look at the good national news first. The BLS numbers for February 2015 (which are still preliminary) present an encouraging picture of private-sector job creation around the country. In every state except West Virginia, the private sector either exceeds its number of employees from before the recession, or is within a few percent of recovering all jobs lost.
Next month the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) will present yet another quarterly report on the state government's finances. It is not exactly a wild guess that the report will reinforce the gloomy lookout for the state budget. Little if anything has changed for the better since the January report.
As I explained last week, one of the effects of the comparatively strong U.S. economy is that the dollar grows stronger vs. other major currencies. The appreciation of the dollar has been particularly noticeable vs. the euro: in May last year a euro cost almost $1.39; last week the exchange rate was down to $1.06 per euro.