budget

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A new report from the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information shows that sales tax numbers last spring dropped dramatically in both mining and lodging.

Forty-two states are not prepared for a pandemic-induced recession. That’s the finding of a recent analysis from Moody’s Analytics. In the Mountain West, the prognosis isn’t as bad as it might seem at first.

Ad valorem taxes contribute to local and state-wide school funds
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The Joint Revenue Committee began a discussion on how to transition to a monthly ad valorem tax collection schedule. During this year's budget session, legislators voted to slowly shift mineral producers from an 18-month lag in collection to a monthly schedule in order to reduce tax delinquency.

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. 

Catherine Wheeler

This is the time of year when lots of drivers are typically on Wyoming highways. But like in so many other ways, this spring has been far from usual.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Declining oil prices, a lack of substantial budget cuts, and concerns spending reserves dominated discussion as the Wyoming House and Senate gave final approval to its two-year budget.

State of Wyoming

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon presented his budget to the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee this week and it didn't feature massive budget cuts some were predicting due to a downturn in revenue. The governor joins Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck to discuss his strategy along with some other topics.

State of Wyoming

Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon unveiled a mostly flat budget, rejecting a number of budget increases. But he did not cut the existing budget, using reserve funds to balance the budget over the next two years. The governor did predict that budget cuts could be forthcoming as the state's revenue picture looks dicey.

curtmeierfortreasurer.com

In November, Curt Meier replaced now-Governor Mark Gordon as the state treasurer. Meier said the Treasurer's Office has been busy filling new staff positions while staying within budget.

Bob Beck / Wyoming Public Radio

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead said he wants to provide pay raises to state employees and K-12 educators in the state. The proposal is part of the governor's supplemental budget. Community College employees and some classified staff at the University of Wyoming would also be eligible for raises. Mead said the time is right.

UW Board of Trustees June 13, 2018 Report

The University of Wyoming Board of Trustees approved close to a $500 million budget for the fiscal year beginning July 1. That budget includes a $5.5 million allocation for salary adjustments. Eligible staff will see a pay bump in their August paycheck. 

Senate President Eli Bebout Speaks To Full Senate
Cooper McKim

It’s the third of four weeks in the 2018 budget session. With the current revenue crunch, many bills have revolved around spurring new revenue, finding new sources, or cutting back on spending. And for energy, it’s no different. The surviving bills also come down to money. Thirteen bills arose related to energy, with only three still moving through the system. There are others that relate, but are not directly tied to energy.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming House and Senate wrapped up budget work Friday. As predicted the Senate made several reductions to education spending. Senate Education Chairman Hank Coe says the cuts were outside of the classroom and were necessary when you look at the state’s fiscal situation. 

“If all the cuts take place that we are talking about here with what we did last year, we are talking about 5 percent in cuts total. Most agencies have taken ten and 12 percent, community colleges have taken 15 percent cuts, the University has cut $41 million. So, I think there’s room for reductions.”

Wyoming Legislature

Wyoming’s energy sector seems to be bouncing back, but years of uncertainty have prompted lawmakers to take a look at spending. For the last eight months, a legislative committee has been trying to wrap their heads around the true cost of K-12 education.

Senator Dave Kinskey is part of that effort, and he’s become well known for saying he wants to see Wyoming get the most bang for the buck. Wyoming Public Radio’s Tennessee Watson visited Kinskey in Sheridan to ask him what that means.

Bob Beck

Wyoming’s revenue forecasting arm known as the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group or CREG had some good news for state officials. CREG says Wyoming’s general fund will see an increase of $141 million from January projections, but state lawmakers and the governor say it’s good news, not great news.

Legislative Service Office

Wyoming’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group says that Wyoming’s income is slightly increasing and is $141 million over its January forecast.   

The report indicates increases in such things as interest income, sales tax, and oil revenues. Lawmakers use the CREG forecast to craft the state budget. A lot of that increase is already in hand due to end of the fiscal year revenue collections. 

POWDER RIVER BASIN RESOURCE COUNCIL

The Powder River Basin Resource Council is taking issue with a proposed tax break to the uranium industry. Industry representatives say the cuts are necessary to help boost production and pricing. Opponents say the strategy has been tried twice without success.

In a report, the Wyoming Mining Association wrote the industry is facing near historically low prices and has had to lay off employees. Prices have dropped about 85% since 2007. 

spglobal.com

S & P global ratings downgraded Wyoming’s credit rating from Triple-A to a Double-A-Plus. That means the next time Wyoming tries to borrow money, it will likely see a higher interest rate.

It’s like applying for a mortgage — if you have a high credit rating, you’ll pay lower interest rates. As Wyoming faces a downgrade in its credit rating, the same idea applies.

This is because there’s less money coming into the government’s coffers due to and low contributions to retirement funds.

Bob Beck

No conclusive action was taken Thursday on House Bill 236 – the last standing piece of legislation, which addresses the $400 million education budget deficit.

Legislators and lobbyists expected the bill to come up for a concurrence vote on Thursday, but Speaker of the House Steve Harshman said he delayed action on the bill because he wanted one more day to work on it.  

“I’m going to actually sleep on it, and I’m gonna' keep working tonight on it,” said Harshman. “We’re still working. Working like dogs.” He added a few barks as he walked off down the hall.

Wyoming State Legislature

The Wyoming House of Representatives and the Wyoming Senate have both passed their respective versions of the budget bill. The two bodies will now swap bills for consideration before a conference committee meets to select one final bill to adopt.

The Senate’s version cuts $91 million from public education funding, marking the largest difference between the two different versions.

Speaker of the House Steve Harshman is a school teacher in Casper, but Jackson Representative Andy Schwartz said that’s not why the House took a less severe approach to K-12 cuts.

Wyoming State Legislature

The Senate passed its version of the budget Friday, after considering 34 amendments and adopting 18 to the bill. One of the largest amendments passed would cut $91 million from K-12 education funding.

One amendment intended to strip a measure cutting two percent of salaries of 100 series government employees, not including those in public education, generated considerable discussion.

treasurer.state.wy.us

Wyoming voters will be asked to support a Constitutional Amendment this November that will change the way the state treasurer can manage Wyoming’s rainy day accounts and endowments.

Called Constitutional Amendment A, it will allow the state treasurer to invest that money in the equities market and the expectation is that it will help grow those funds.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio

Proposals for generating new state revenue failed to draw much support from the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee during its meeting this week.

 

The committee rejected proposals to increase taxes on wind energy and tobacco. A bill that would have introduced a sales tax on services also failed and a proposal to repeal some sales tax exemptions was largely gutted. Of the nine sales tax exemptions considered, the committee voted to keep five of them intact.

 

Stroock Forum

  

Every year, a forum in honor of former Ambassador Tom Stroock delves into an issue facing Wyoming. This year the focus will be on sovereign wealth funds such as Wyoming’s permanent mineral trust fund and rainy day accounts.

University of Wyoming

 

Wyoming President Laurie Nichols started her job on a Monday, the Monday after the Friday when Governor Matt Mead told the UW trustees that they must whack an additional $35 million from the University budget. The state’s fiscal downturn has led to a $41 million cut from the UW budget.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

The City Council in Casper voted to cut the city’s budget by more than a third on Tuesday.

While the cuts do not include any layoffs, Casper City Council member, Bob Hopkins, says there will be a reduction in capital spending, elimination of 23 vacant positions and early retirement for some city employees.

Hopkins says the primary goal of the cuts is to keep public services, like street maintenance and snow plowing, going during the economic downturn.

Wyoming Medical Center Facebook

Wyoming’s current economic decline is beginning to effect the financial wellness of hospitals across the state. Earlier this week, Wyoming Medical Center in Casper announced they would cut 58 positions in order to balance their budget.

Liam Niemeyer

As many local governments are finalizing their budgets for the upcoming year, the city of Laramie is expected to feel the financial crunch happening at the state level.

The city is receiving about $2.2 million less from the state. In response to that, along with stagnant sales tax revenue, the city will eliminate 14 positions from various departments. Those positions include an animal control officer and two officers in the Laramie Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Unit.

Senator Mike Enzi (R)

 

President Obama and Republicans in Congress are squaring off on the nation’s spending priorities for the year. Wyoming Republicans are proving an especially pointed thorn in President Obama’s side on the final budget he sent to Congress.

Wyoming Legislature

After a week of relative calm, the Wyoming legislative session is about to get a little more heated. Falling energy prices has led to a decline of over 500 million dollars in state revenue.

On Monday, the Wyoming legislature will look at crafting the next two year budget with a series of bills that address topics ranging from general government operations to building projects.  

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