The Conventional Wisdom of Higher Taxes

One of the greatest dangers to our economic future here in Wyoming is the conventional wisdom that government should always expect more revenue. We need a new course, a new goal for government, where it is confined to its constitutional functions, within a framework of low, stable and predictable taxes.

The conventional wisdom about government finances is pervasive in the public policy debate. I have a couple of examples yesterday; today we will take a look at another. Before we get to them, let us go back and listen to what I said yesterday, about how the campaign for higher local taxes is in full swing:

Taxes Do Not Pay Taxes

We have very good reasons to be worried about what our state legislature is going to do in terms of taxes in the 2019 session. We have equally good reasons to be worried about what tax hike bills, once passed by the legislature, will be signed by our next governor. 

Jobs in Wyoming: Part 2

Adding to yesterday's overview of the jobs trends in the private sector, here is a look at what is happening at the industry level. Before we get down there, though, let us review some comparative numbers on government and private employment and compensation.

Jobs in Wyoming: Part 1

As we get closer to the 2019 legislative session, the debate over taxes and government spending is going to heat up. Specifically, we can expect a stronger push for ENDOW and its WyoFlot project, with both being pushed as instruments for jobs creation. 

Since both reforms are going to cost taxpayers a fair amount of money - possibly as much as $100 million per year - ENDOW and WyoFlot proponents need to answer one simple question: 

Another Flawed Tax Inequality Study

the state’s bottom 20 percent of earners – those making less than $26,100 a year – pay approximately 9.6 percent of their income in taxes every year, compared to just 2.6 percent for those making $580,000 or more each year. 
Sounds pretty bad, does it not? There is a number of flaws with these numbers. We will get to them in a moment. First, let us hear what the Tribune suggests is the reason behind these numbers:

How To Create Fifty Thousand New Jobs

If Wyoming families could spend like Americans in general, there would be $4 billion more spent in our state.

Another $4 billion in consumer spending in our state could create as many as 50,000 new private-sector jobs.

The Bureau of Economic Analysis has released state-level consumer spending data for 2017. As with so much other economic news, this one tells us firmly that Wyoming families have tight budgets and cannot afford higher cost of living.

Will Candidates for Governor Talk Taxes?

Back from a quick trip to the East Coast to secure support in starting this new think tank. This support is non-financial, but still valuable; to make this project reality we still need to meet the fundraising goal by the end of this month. Many thanks to those of you who have already contributed!

As if to highlight the huge importance of this new think tank, our gubernatorial candidates are getting together tonight for their second to last debate before the election. There is no doubt that the state's pressing fiscal situation is making itself known to them; according to the Casper Star Tribune, school funding is going to be a big issue:

Wyoming Not Best for Businesses

In their annual state business climate study, CNBC ranks Wyoming an overall 26th for state business climate. This study, which is far more comprehensive than what the Tax Foundation puts out every year, is never quoted by our state lawmakers. 

The study consists of ten categories and more than 60 variables, where we rank as follows:

Efficiency, The Government Way

You have probably heard about the efficiency study that the consulting firm Alvarez and Marsal did for the state government, and charged an undisclosed few tens of millions of dollars for. They studied about one third of the state government and claimed to have found $200 million in efficiency savings. A lot of merry faces in the legislature centered in on this study as the one single solution that would end the state's increasingly serious deficit problem. All we need to do, the argument went, is to apply this to the entire state government and we would cut state spending by $600 million.

Well, I am sorry to spoil the party, but that is not going to happen, and there are three reasons why. 

Governor Mead's Fiscal Report Card

My good friend Chris Edwards at the Cato Institute has released the latest gubernatorial report card. Now in it s14th edition, it is an impressive piece of data work and analysis that gives us a great idea of how governors across the country are doing. 

Including, of course, our own beloved Matthew H Mead. Cato gives him a B in their total score, which is an index of seven tax and spending variables. With a score of 61 out of 100, he is 12 points and eight places behind the best-ranked governor, Susana Martinez of New Mexico. 

S & P Report Show Dangers with Higher Taxes

Last year, the Wyoming legislature was spared the agony of having to vote on big tax hikes. A Taxmageddon package that would have raised taxes by almost $500 million, died in the Revenue Committee just before the session. 

As I warned back then, it was only a delay. If nothing happened on the spending side of the equation, Big Tax would be back with a vengeance. 

More Evidence of Our Big Government

On October 1 I presented data showing that Wyoming state and local governments are more costly than in any other state except New York. Today, we look at the same data from the expenditure side, only now, we divide total expenditure with disposable personal income (as opposed to total personal income).

Again, Wyoming ends up number two in the country:

Tax Hikes Coming Your Way

In case you are still in doubt whether or not we need a statewide effort to educate Wyoming taxpayers, here is an account of what transpired at the Revenue Committee last month, courtesy of courtesy of the Casper Star Tribune. Pay attention to two things - the number of tax hikes proposed, and the attitude behind those proposals:
Municipal governments in Wyoming stand to lose more than $100 million in direct funding to offset anticipated shortfalls in the education budget. With that reality looming, the Wyoming Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee met two weeks ago in Buffalo to discuss a number of new ways to provide funding to cities, towns and counties. 

Wyoming Government: Second Only To New York

If you thought Wyoming was a small-government state, think again. In terms of total state and local government revenue, collected in state, Wyoming is second only to New York:

Weekly Economic Review

Our lawmakers here in Cheyenne are planning to raise taxes on the tourism industry - by a lot. In the meantime, the first issue of my new w...