That’s the situation the state of Wyoming is in after recently released figures show the state received $320 million more revenue than originally anticipated. Combine that with readily available budget reserve funds, and Wyoming’s surplus for …
You know the unexpected joy that comes from discovering a $20 bill tucked away in the pocket of a coat from last winter? Imagine finding out about hundreds of millions of dollars you didn’t expect.
That’s the situation the state of Wyoming is in after recently released figures show the state received $320 million more revenue than originally anticipated. Combine that with readily available budget reserve funds, and Wyoming’s surplus for the fiscal year that ended in June totals $437 million.
While many states around the U.S. are faced with huge budget deficits, the enviable dilemma for Wyoming lawmakers is whether to save surplus money or spend it.
Some lawmakers favor socking away most of the surplus into Wyoming’s so-called rainy day fund. Known as the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, its balance surpasses $1 billion.
Yes, it’s important during boom years to save for inevitable busts, and we commend lawmakers for their foresight and wise decisions in building up Wyoming’s rainy day reserves. Yet we also realize the value in investing in Wyoming now to make it a stronger, more viable state.
The best option is to split surplus money evenly among the rainy day fund, Wyoming’s roadways and local governments. We agree with Gov. Matt Mead and some legislators, who have said they favor using available excess funds toward those projects.
As Mayor Scott Mangold told the Tribune, Wyoming towns, cities and counties faced with budget cuts have put many infrastructure projects on the back burner. Without money to maintain streets or bridges, the condition only worsens, making it more expensive in the long run.
The city of Powell used its consensus money from the state toward slurry seal for local streets, a project completed this summer, and Mangold said any little bit from the state helps communities improve and maintain their infrastructure.
Deteriorating highways in the state forced some closures for emergency repairs in recent years, and the Wyoming Department of Transportation also would greatly benefit from additional funding.
As Mayor Mangold said, “When we live in a state with all that extra revenue, using it to improve the state would be a wise choice rather than putting it away and not getting much interest.”
Indeed — investing in Wyoming now and keeping infrastructure in good condition is just as important as saving for a rainy day.