Gov. announces plans for Supplemental Budget FY 2023-24
Cheyenne – “Wyoming citizens, like other Americans, are feeling the hurt of inflation. However, unlike the rest of the nation, Wyoming’s economy has responded surprisingly well because of our fiscal conservatism,” Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon commented during a Nov. 18 press conference in regards to his official proposed supplemental budget for the Fiscal Year (FY) 2023-24.
He continued, “Tax revenues have diversified. In fact, our diversification index is the highest it’s been in 40 years according to the latest economic analysis, which makes the tasks in this supplemental budget complex. But in all of this, we must remember our fiscal responsibility requires we set aside some of this surplus in savings.”
The governor’s proposal addresses critical considerations for inflation on multiple fronts, including funding for property tax relief, capital construction projects previously authorized by the legislature, an external cost adjustment of education services, employee compensation and healthcare.
The proposal notes the American economy has been heating up. Events driven partly by the Biden administration’s energy policies, accelerated by Russian aggression and Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries opportunism, have driven up diesel, oil and natural gas prices.
People fleeing from urban states are buying land in Wyoming, which is driving up the cost of real estate, assessed valuations, consumer goods and services. All of this has generated more revenue for Wyoming but higher prices for residents.
Roughly $913 million was left in the general fund and budget reserve accounts to meet the challenges and opportunities Wyomingites now face. The budget would put almost half of this surplus into savings, generating ongoing revenues to benefit the state in coming years and future generations, and hold down the need for further government taxes, the proposal continues.
“We must respond to inflationary costs of construction, bring our employee compensation closer to market value, set ourselves up to power the nation toward energy independence and address the rising costs of homeownership for our most vulnerable citizens,” Gordon added.
Additionally, the governor has proposed allocating funding in several urgent areas to maintain healthy communities and protect the state’s economy. These include addressing mental and behavioral health service gaps, hardening cyberinfrastructure, enhancing security at state prisons and protecting natural resource industries by controlling invasive species and predators.
“It’s important we make allowances for future years under all circumstances,” he shared. “Our economy has performed better than anyone could have anticipated – putting us in a good position in the short term. It’s our responsibility to not squander this fortuitous opportunity and make sure we invest in our future in a way that will pay off for years to come.”
In the proposal, Gordon notes the latest analysis shows an overall inflation rate for Wyoming of 10.1 percent. For transportation, 16.4 percent and for housing, 8.6 percent. Gordon’s largest component of his budget is in response to inflation and proposes a second year of the property tax relief program. In its first year, the program brought relief to more than 3,000 households.
“We have had historically high inflation levels – it’s been a double-edged sword for Wyoming,” Gordon mentioned. “We have benefited from high energy prices, but at the same time, inflation has created increases for the cost of [paying for] government [services].”
He continued, “I want to make sure people understand, I’m acutely aware of how [inflation] has affected Wyoming households, businesses and especially those who are living on a fixed income. Costs have risen dramatically.”
“Increasing our savings now will help pay for services we’ve all agreed are essential and will hold down the need for additional taxes in the future,” he added.
“Even with all of these proposals, one thing is certain, government in Wyoming is leaner than it has been for generations,” Gordon said. “We have been meticulous in bringing and streamlining more efficiency to government – we are not done yet.”
In his supplemental budget recommendation, Gordon recommended setting aside $412 million in the state’s Permanent Mineral Trust Fund.
He also recommended adding $70 million to state education, $50 million to cover inflation costs of state construction projects, $50 million to match federal dollars for carbon capture, utilization and sequestration projects, $18.7 million to the Department of Health, $10 million to the state’s mineral royalty grant program and $1 million to the property tax refund program.
In addition, he proposed adding $61 million for state employee compensation.
“This state was built by people who, like Americans before, were anxious to see the country grow and opportunity flourish. This is the time to be bold and demonstrate innovation and entrepreneurship, respect for private initiative and property, as well community-mindedness. These all power the American Dream,” said Gordon. “The sun is shining, and the fields are ready – we need to make some hay.”
Gordon will present his supplemental budget to the Joint Appropriations Committee on Dec. 8.
Brittany Gunn is the editor of the Wyoming Livestock Roundup. Send comments on this article to email@example.com.