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December 11, 2012 9:15 am

EDITORIAL: Searching for steady revenue streams

Written by Tessa Schweigert

State legislators need to examine possibilities

Uncertain energy outlooks create tumultuous funding streams for the state of Wyoming. Faced with the reality of a boom and bust cycle, state lawmakers have used recent years of prosperity to save for inevitable rainy days ahead.

But to keep up with recurring costs, such as road construction and maintenance, the state needs more predictable revenue streams.

Since taking office nearly two years ago, Gov. Matt Mead has advocated creating a reliable source of funding for the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

Legislators will soon meet in Cheyenne to discuss just that.

Among the possibilities: a fuel tax increase and a lottery bill.

The proposal to increase the fuel tax by 10 cents per gallon has already gained attention and popularity around the state. Last week, the Legislature’s Joint Revenue Committee endorsed the fuel tax hike, and also supported raising vehicle registration fees by $10. The two proposals would generate $90 million more per year, according to The Associated Press.

Other legislators are eyeing another potential revenue stream: Powerball tickets. A group of lawmakers plan to draft a lottery bill to raise money for highway maintenance.

Many Wyomingites use the state’s roadways to purchase lottery tickets across the border. Last month’s multimillion dollar Powerball jackpot sent northern Wyoming residents to Montana to purchase tickets, while those in the south crossed into Colorado to try their luck.

Tax increases and lottery proposals haven’t been popular in Wyoming in the past. But legislators need to take a new approach to funding highway maintenance, and these proposals are a start.

Both have pros and cons, and lawmakers must carefully consider how each measure could affect Wyoming residents. They also should examine other possibilities. Gov. Mead has also asked for a portion of severance taxes to be designated for highway maintenance, if the fuel tax proposal fails.

The state’s strong dependency on natural resources is unlikely to change. Lawmakers are wise to save for uncertainty ahead, but it’s time to establish predictable funding streams for needed projects.

4 comments

  • Comment Link December 11, 2012 12:38 pm posted by johndpung@@yahoo.com

    first maybe just maybe should take a lesson from little deaver...... then how about all the people going to billings to shop....... how many of the high rollers and ones pushing more taxes are going to billings to shop?? just maybe you ought to clean your house before throwing out opinions

  • Comment Link December 11, 2012 12:40 pm posted by clipstein

    why not editorals on the polls done by this paper???? the people disagree with the city council and this paper buy yet not a word about the truth

  • Comment Link December 11, 2012 12:49 pm posted by Disgusted taxpayer

    The reason lottery's have not been popular in the past is the Salt lake City influence in the name of Mormons won't allow it.Look at what Wyoming did fighting the tribes in Riverton and Lander so many years,now the state gets nothing.Politics and religion do not mix,except in Wyoming.As for taxes,RINO's moan about tax & spend Liberals,yet hit us in the six with tax..tax..tax.HYPOCRITES.

  • Comment Link December 12, 2012 11:24 am posted by Salty Dawg

    Not to worry,the taxaholics in Wyoming will get into your pocket one way or another.

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