- The Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety
In Wyoming, most government agencies have been asked to cut their budgets by eight percent. This is a deceiving, because they aren’t cutting their budget by eight percent, if by budget they mean the 2013-2014 biennium budget. They are cutting only a portion of that. This means the eight percent budget cut is much smaller than one might imagine.
How does this work?
For example, the Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety has a 2013-2014 biennial budget of about $7.6 million. Its eight percent cut amounts to $291,838. Eight percent of $7.6 million is $600,000, so how did this get reduced to $291,838?
Well, like most other Wyoming government agencies forced to cut their budgets, it doesn’t have to cut eight percent from its budget, it has to cut eight percent from part of its general fund appropriation for 2014.
Agencies get money from three main sources: the general fund, federal funds and other funds. The general fund gets its revenue from a part of the sales and use taxes, severance taxes, state investment income, and a few other sources. Federal funds come from the federal government, and other funds come from every other way the government has figured out to pick your pocket.
In the 2013-2014 biennium budget, the Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety gets $6.8 million from the general fund.
In 2014, its general fund appropriation is $3.3 million.
And voila! The budget cut is $291,838.
How will the Department of Fire Prevention and Electrical Safety achieve this cut? By not filling two vacant positions. The annual salary of the first position, vacant because of the state government’s hiring freeze, is $77,161. The annual salary of the second position, vacant because the person in it went to a government job in another city, is $109,025. This adds up to $186,186. Where did the other $105,652 go? To benefits, at $53,085 and $52,567 each. Pretty eye-popping, considering the median salary in Wyoming is $53,572.
So those wringing their hands over the collapse of big government spending needn’t have bothered. Of course, those who thought the government might become less of a burden on their pocketbooks have no reason to cheer either. As we can see with this and other examples, the eight percent budget cutting exercise is little more than a charade.