WPR News
4:53 pm
Tue April 20, 2004

Cubin's Trona Tax Break Attacked

Cheyenne, WY – Wyoming Representative Barbara Cubin's proposal to help the state's trona industry was criticized Tuesday by one of her election opponents. Cubin's legislation would greatly reduce federal taxes on trona, which is processed into the soda ash used to make glass and detergents. State Senator Cale Case says the bill makes no sense because there's no proof it would boost production. Case says the market for trona is similar to coal, and a new study shows that changes to coal tax rates only have a negligible impact on production. Cubin's Press Secretary Joe Milczewski disagrees, saying coal and trona are vastly different. He says Wyoming coal producers don't compete with China, whose soda ash industry doesn't have to follow environmental or wage standards. Milczewski says trona producers are having trouble competing because of transportation costs, so anything to reduce overhead will help. Milczewski also says the loss in tax revenue for the state would be minor, especially compared to the 3,000 jobs at risk. Case says he wants to see a study that shows a tax break will actually increase production. Cubin believes it's better to cut taxes now and study the effects while doing it, than to wait four years for a study to be done and then see if there any jobs left to protect. Cubin's third Republican primary challenger, Bruce Asay, says Cubin should have done something to help the trona industry long before this election year.