Wyoming To Face A Revenue Shortfall

Oct 29, 2019

Credit Wyoming Legislature

Not only will Wyoming generate less money over the next three years, the state is also looking for at least $150 million to cover its next two-year budget, according to a new revenue report. But that number may actually be closer to $400 million.

The Consensus Revenue Estimating Group says the loss in revenue is due to coal and a decline in investment income. The good news is that Wyoming is seeing new money from a robust oil market, but members of the legislature's Joint Appropriations committee were told that oil revenue will be much more volatile than coal revenue.

CREG Co-Chairman Don Richards suggested that there is money the state can use to get through the next two years, but the future is more of a concern since the state will be forced to use more volatile revenue streams.

"Meaning away from coal and towards oil. Oil will go down sometime, and it will go up. And it's going to a much more volatile than the last 20 years of a steady revenue source from coal," noted Richards.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Eli Bebout said the state is in a new place.

"Wyoming cannot continue to rely on traditional sources of income for our revenue stream. Minerals are so volatile, and the future is not as good as it could be. Interest income is volatile as well. And yet, we continue to spend. So there's really a shift going on that we haven't seen before in all the years I've been doing this," said Bebout.

Gov. Mark Gordon said the lack of money will mean that the state needs to make some difficult decisions. Several lawmakers have been working on some possible tax bills over the summer, but those bills will require two-thirds support to be considered in the upcoming budget session.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Bob Beck, at btwo@uwyo.edu.