Wyoming Governor Calls For Moderate Spending
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead warned state lawmakers Monday against either spending too much or too little as the legislature works on crafting a budget for the 2019-2020 biennium.
The governor, in his eighth and final ''State of the State" address to the legislature, quoted Wyoming's first Governor, Francis E. Warren, on the dangers of going to either extreme in terms of spending policy.
Governor Mead also said there is nothing wrong with dipping into the state's reserve account--or ''rainy day fund" where needed to help make up funding shortfalls.
He told lawmakers the state's current budget challenges shouldn't prevent spending on the Endow [Economically Needed Diversity Options for Wyoming] program to help diversify the state economy from its heavy dependence on the energy industry.
''We have not recovered from the last energy bust cycle,'' Mead said, adding ''we cannot sit around waiting for the next one. The governor urged lawmakers to consider stationing a trade representative in the Asian nation Taiwan, saying Idaho has such a person in the island nation and has reaped the benefits of a new market for beef.
On the subject of education funding, the governor said that while ''we should not shy away from looking at reasonable reductions,'' the state also needs to ''respect the value of education.'' He urged lawmakers to consider lodging and tobacco tax increases as possible ways to generate money. He said an increased lodging tax, for example, would free up money currently spent on tourism that would then be available for education.
Wyoming faces a budget shortfall of around $850 million for the biennium as things currently stand.
But the Joint Revenue Committee recently refused to endorse several possible tax increases to help make up the shortfall, amid hopes that an improving state economy combined with spending cuts would help make up much of the deficit.