Review of 2019 Wyoming Legislative Session
The 2019 First Regular Session of the 65th Wyoming General Assembly adjourned Sine Die on February 28, 2019. The session saw lots of discussions around diversifying the economy of Wyoming while at the same time, maintained the status quo of limited taxation and no new taxes. The State's continued reliance on extractive industries tax revenue in the budget has exposed the state to continued boom and bust cycles tied to those extractive industries. In good times, all is well. But recent times have signaled that the coal industry as well as the oil and gas industries are in a very volatile environment and accordingly, the state budget is similarly affected.
The mindset that Wyoming does not have a revenue problem, but that Wyoming does have a spending problem, has put the state precariously close to a fiscal cliff. And it hampers economic growth and prosperity. Importantly, there is still a structural deficit that will not soon be resolved without tax adjustments or digging into the sacrosanct Permanent Trust Fund instead of just spending investment proceeds.
Having stated the above, the Legislature continues to balance the budget every year through creative and often times contentious appropriations juggling that carries the state through each budget biennium. Attempts to change the biennium budget process have fallen short. A new focus on allowing local government to expand taxation limits controlled by the legislature has also fallen short. The legislature will now set its sights on interim committee discussions to once again attempt to address dwindling budget proceeds in an environment where education lawsuits prompted by underfunding will loom.
At the end of the day, the Wyoming legislature wrestles admirably through incredible and impassioned debates on taxation, education sustainability and a plethora of other issues crammed into very short and tiring sessions. The process does work and does, in the opinion of many policy wonks, reflect the majority of constituents in the state. But the constituents are also recognizing that services and appropriate government roles are at a critical juncture and Governor Gordon has his hands full trying to reach consensus with a very independent, freedom loving and anti-tax groups of legislators.
Here is the final Bill Tracking Report from the 2019 Legislative Session. Please contact CWPMA staff for any questions that you may have regarding the last session, interim committee discussions and the next legislative session.
2019 Wyoming Bill Tracking Report