Wyoming Faces A Massive Revenue Shortfall

May 27, 2020

Credit Jimmy Emerson, DVM via https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/

Wyoming legislators were told that state revenue projections are down $1.5 billion from January led by a huge drop in projected oil prices. 

The Joint Revenue Committee was told that the state general fund is looking at a shortfall of $877 million by June 30, 2022, about a third of the state's budget.

Consensus Revenue Estimating Group Co-Chairman Don Richards told the committee cutting that much out of the state’s budget would be a lot. He compared it to getting rid of everybody who works for the state.

"All state employees that are in the budget, my salary, elected officials' salaries, department of family services, workforce services, health, corrections all of that equals about a third. So that's the type of money we're talking about," said Richards.

He told the committee it would also wipe out the legislative reserve account, or it could lead to the largest tax hike ever considered by the state. Richards said it's probably more realistic to consider a combination of cuts, tax increases and reserves. He added that acting as quickly as possible could be important, especially since it will take time to collect revenue from a new tax.

The Committee was also told that drops in sales tax revenue is a growing concern. Wyoming Department of Revenue Director Dan Noble noted that tourist dollars are a big part of sales tax collections and if events like Cheyenne Frontier Days are canceled, that would have a major impact on the state and community.

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