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Can state continue to spend in today’s economy?

Posted: Monday, Nov 4th, 2013


Wyoming House of Representatives

House District #19

I had some thoughts I shared with the TRW (Travel, Recreation, Wildlife and Cultural Resources Committee) members, following the recent committee meeting after I recently returned from a five-day elk hunt in the snow above the Green River Lakes. One of my best hunts, and I didn’t shoot.

Anyway I had about 350 Emails, most of which, were from Wildlife Federation members sending a form letter from Steve Kilpatrick. I do appreciate hearing from people even if we differ.

My concern is, I thought we were through with Game and Fish license fee increase, but I guess the chairman can continue bring it up.

I thought the GF were going to answer many concerns about how they are spending the $150 million they now get before we were, as a committee, going to sponsor a fee increase bill. John Kennedy was going to get back with many concerns, including:

• a list of priorities,

• a cost-benefit analysis of their programs,

• numbers of administrators, employees and salaries,

• giving answers to the list of 17 questions asked about a year ago,

• looking at ways to save money – Wyoming Wildlife magazine, game bird farms and around one-fourth of their employees living in cost-free housing.

And the list goes on. We have not looked into any of these things. Instead the G&F have made some big cuts that have many of the folks who wrote us the emails very concerned about why they cut these programs (access, stocking, education, etc.) as the Wildlife Federation, Steve Kilpatrick and Mr. Copeland pointed out in their letter to their members and others.

My thoughts are still the same. Let's work on making the G&F very transparent, getting the information we have asked for, looking at ways the use the funds they now receive more efficiently before we just go ahead and give them more.

I feel that Senator Burns’ bill is a modified way to accomplish what we have already rejected. It's so small an increase its OK, and people will just go along with it. We need to work together to get a better picture of how our present money is being spent, what we could do without jeopardizing our wildlife and even making it better by increasing the quality of our wildlife. No one on this committee wants to put our wildlife as risk, but I'm sure we can improve what we have and how we manage it.

As you can see, I feel we need to hold the line and work together with the present budget the GF has to take care of our wildlife. We are still in a struggling economy and the working people of Wyoming are working within their budgets. I feel it would be good for government and state agencies to do the same.

Our money to run our state government, which is the largest per capita in the nation, comes mainly from our minerals – coal which is way down, gas which is around $4/mcf now and was up to $9/mcf when we had lots of money, and oil which is the best of the three right now.

The governor would like to spend the budget-projected interest on our saving-investments, around $333 million, to help transportation and Game and Fish

This sounds good and like the right thing to do. The trouble, as I see it, is the raises go on even after this next two year budget (a not-true statement because we always have a supplemental budget in a regular session in which we send more money than what was budgeted in the budget session).

We already have the most government employees per capita than any other state, which is going to be hard to continue funding especially with the cost of living increases. If gas, coal, oil do not turn around (do we see that happening?), where are we going to get the funds to continue paying the cost to run our state government, agencies and all their employees??

I would like to have some accountability in how transportation – WYDOT – with a budget of around $1.1 billion plus the $.10 fuel tax the legislature passed and how the Game and Fish spends their $150 million budget before we just give them more. I would like to hear your thoughts on this.

For the complete article see the 11-01-2013 issue.

Click here to purchase an electronic version of the 11-01-2013 paper.

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