Wyoming has seen a higher rig count and more coal production in the last few months, but that doesn’t change much for its financial picture, according to the latest Consensus Revenue Estimating Group or CREG report. It shows that the general fund was up by $900,000 but that isn’t nearly enough to fill the gaping $156 million hole in the two year $3 billion budget.
CREG Co-Chairman Don Richards said while there are signs of a rebounding economy, the numbers still aren’t great.
“Personal income continues to be weak in the state of Wyoming,” said Richards “And oil and gas employment has not rebounded as we anticipated in October despite the increase in rig counts. Wyoming is dealing with a lower population.”
Richards said that drop in population means there aren't as many people to spend money, leading to a moderate dip in sales tax of about $8 million dollars.
Senate President Eli Bebout and Speaker of the House Steve Harshman released a statement saying that while there are reasons to be optimistic, the lack of coal lease bonuses, which have funded schools for many years, will make education funding a huge challenge.
But Representative Lloyd Larsen said the CREG report wasn’t all doom and gloom.
“The January CREG reinforces perhaps, maybe we’re seeing things level off. Certainly we’re seeing a little uptick on the price of natural gas and the price of coal," said Larsen. "So those are encouraging things although it still leaves us with a real challenge because it doesn’t generate the revenue that we’ve been used to over the last decade or so."