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:
One of the most elusive answers to get from any candidate is what they plan to do to meet an anticipated $800 million shortfall in the state’s education budget. And so, to open the debate, the candidates will be asked just that: what they, specifically, plan to do to make ends meet. ... Where Throne has largely talked about the revenue side of funding schools, which is largely intertwined with the state’s economic development and diversification efforts, she has spoken against responding to the issue by cutting administrators, ... Gordon, on the trail, has advocated for a belt-tightening approach, telling the Wyoming GOP in its candidate questionnaire that “we are going to have to look at how we can improve efficiencies and do more with less to meet our education needs.” However, he has spoken to maintaining the quality of education in Wyoming, prompting questions as to where specifically he — as governor — would streamline the state’s education system.
It might be worth pointing out that our state's budget deficit is not a matter of school funding. It is a general budget deficit, but Big Tax wants to pin it on school funding: you need to agree to pay higher taxes, or your kids will walk through empty schools, where dust and spider webs decorate abandoned classrooms, while teachers, clothed in rags with heads hanging, walk in a depressing line down to the soup kitchen for their only meal of the day.
The reality, of course, is that our schools are among the best funded in the nation and that we have one of the highest ratios of administrators to teachers. Again: the budget deficit is a general problem for the entire state budget, and Wyoming families and businesses simply cannot afford more taxes.
This is the real issue that our gubernatorial candidates should address. So far, Rex Rammell is the only one of them who has pledged to not raise taxes as governor. Lawrence Stuempf, the libertarian candidate, sounds like a mainstream Democrat, Mark Gordon has not pledged to resist tax hikes and Mary Throne is apparently in favor of "more revenue".
It would be interesting to know what they think about the corporate income tax that is being discussed in the Revenue Committee.
So long as our candidates and elected officials get to set their own agenda, they will continue the mainstream political narrative. If we, the people of Wyoming, start a conversation about what really matters - structural spending reform, deregulation, school choice and a firm no to new and higher taxes - then eventually our elected officials and candidates are going to listen.