In the State of the State address today, Governor Mead reiterated his proposal to redirect more money from severance taxes into the ‘rainy day account.’ One percent of severance taxes currently goes into the permanent mineral trust fund, but Governor Mead wants it to go into a legislative savings account instead.
House Minority Leader, Mary Throne, has spoken out against having a rainy day fund so large, noting that it currently contains $5 billion. She says they need to determine how much they actually need to save.
“I think it’s a time for caution and prudence but not panic. Wyoming had no money in the ‘90s, more money than we knew what to do with in the last decade. Right now we’re somewhere in between and I think it’ time for an honest discussion of the revenue side and the savings side.”
But Senate Majority Floor leader, Phil Nicholas, says his party is prepared to articulate the basis of such a big savings account.
“The use of the word ‘rainy day’ is a misnomer. We were trying to provide and prepare for predictable revenue cycles. The idea was to augment both the General Fund and the Budget Reserve Account during anticipated long-term plateaus of slow or declining revenues at or near current operating expenses.”
Nicholas says lawmakers should focus on revenue predictions 10 to 20 years ahead.