Wyoming Liberty Group
Wyoming Legislator Frugality Scorecard Shows Mixed Performance
CHEYENNE, WY: The Wyoming Liberty Group released its Budget Frugality Scorecard today, which measures whether Wyoming legislators voted to increase or decrease the general appropriations budget through the budget amendment process. A Frugality Score measures the willingness of legislators to increase or decrease Wyoming’s deficit.
“Wyoming legislators are already raiding the rainy day fund for the operational budget so we wanted to know which legislators would vote for an even bigger raid,” said Maureen Bader, WyLiberty economist and study lead. “Medicaid expansion in the Senate and the lack of roll call votes on amendments that failed in the House make for some interesting results that voters can ask their candidates about at election time.”
To create the Budget Frugality Scorecard, Wyoming Liberty Group analysed second and third reading amendments that either increased or decreased general fund appropriations and that had a roll call vote. Each legislator in both the Senate and House received a score.
Frugality was measured two ways. First on the percentage of roll call votes on amendments that affected the proposed budget’s general fund appropriation and second, on the percentage of dollars voted on that affected the general fund appropriation. A perfect 100 percent score means a legislator voted for a decrease or against an increase 100 percent of the time and on 100 percent of the dollars. A zero percent score means a legislator voted for a decrease or against an increase zero percent of the time and on zero percent of the dollars. No legislator received a 100 percent or zero percent score.
“The formulation of the Medicaid expansion amendment in the Senate shows why we needed two types of measurement. Even though evidence from other states shows that its short-and-long-term consequences are budget busting, a vote against Medicaid expansion meant many Senators fell in the ranking,” said Bader. “Different rules in the House meant only one failed amendment had a roll call vote, making it difficult to get a broad picture of legislator voting behavior. accountable for their action.”
The Senate results fell below those in the House, with only one senator, Cale Case, voting frugally more than 80 percent of the time on 80 percent of the dollars. While in the House, seven representatives voted frugally on 90 percent of the dollars but only one of those, Kendell Kroeker, voted frugally more than 90 percent of the time.
At the bottom of the list, all the Democrats sat at the bottom on the House side and one Republican sat below all the Democrats on the list on the Senate side. No legislator scored frugally zero percent of the time or on zero percent of the dollars.
“As state revenues continue to plummet, many legislators appear willing to dip into the rainy day fund to maintain elevated spending levels,” said Bader. “Wyoming taxpayers face the specter of depleted savings and higher taxes unless true political will for government reform appears.”