CHEYENNE — Gov. Mark Gordon said even though he thought it was a successful legislative session, he was frustrated with the lack of progress made this year in creating viable revenue streams for priorities like education.
During a Thursday press conference, Gordon said the failure of several bills meant to fix part of the state’s $100 million structural deficit in education funding was a major disappointment from the 2019 general session. He said it was imperative for Wyoming to find ways to fund things like career and technical education programs, and protect the state’s economy from the fluctuations of the energy market.
“We still have some work to do on our budget gap. We still have some work we need to do to make sure our funding for (CTE) initiatives is more sustainable going forward,” Gordon said. “I was a little disappointed we saw some pretty mature conversation all the way through the session, and then at the end it all kind of rolled back, and we ended up in the same place.”
The Legislature started the session with several bills to increase revenues separate from the mineral industry, including a statewide lodging tax and a corporate income tax for companies with 100 or more shareholders. Those two bills, along with a proposed mill levy increase for education and an increase in the state’s tobacco tax, died before making it to Gordon’s desk.
Gordon said he has asked ENDOW, the state’s economic diversification group, to study the tax structures of states in the Western region and those run by Republican majorities. The goal is to build models to allow Wyoming to examine its own revenue streams, and start to look at how changes to the state’s tax code could affect the budget.
“I’m not asking them for a recommendation (on new taxes),” Gordon said.
“I want to be able to run our current revenue streams through those tax structures, so that the people of Wyoming understand what happens if we reduce the revenue we get off coal, as we’re seeing now. What happens if we see volatility in oil and gas pricing, or with other minerals?”
By Ramsey Scott
Wyoming Tribune Eagle Via Wyoming News Exchange