I have signed the NO TAX INCREASE pledge.
As revenues from our mineral development industries dry up, Wyoming is looking for new sources of funds. On the table for discussion are increased property and sales taxes, an income tax, a tax on corporations, increased "sin" taxes on tobacco and alcohol, sales taxes on "services" and even reversing the sales tax exemption for groceries.
I am a sure NO vote on all of the above.
The sole purpose of increased taxes is to maintain the level of government we have today. My position is - reduce the size of government. We can no longer afford the government we built during the boom. Will minerals come back? So much of the answer to that question depends on the presidential election. If Clinton wins, the "leave it in the ground" mentality will prevail. If Trump wins, Wyoming stands a chance to return to prosperity.
Of all the 50 states, Wyoming has the highest number of public employees (not including federal) per capita, even among states with just one U.S. Representative. In the 2016 legislative Budget Session, we eliminated funding for 82 state positions that had been vacant for six months or more. When we looked at the number of vacancies that had been open for four months to six months, we found over 400 of those. Fearful that the legislature would defund those vacant positions, the state filled 106 of them in April. This, at a time when revenues were already plummeting.
During the Budget Session, the legislature passed Senate File 41 - a $400+ million construction bill that did NOT include K-12 school construction. I voted NO. After the session, Governor Mead ordered across-the-board budget cuts, including a $90 million cut to the Department of Health. If I am re-elected I will work with other Conservatives to eliminate the SF 41 spending and restore the cuts made to the DoH.
Wyoming's "rainy day fund" started the Budget Session with $1.8 billion - the legislature spent $300 million of that. This current "bust" may not part of the normal cycle of Wyoming's ups and downs - this could be permanent. Legislators must address the very structure of the state's budget. A good article on the subject is here: http://www.thewyomingprosperityproject.com/2016/10/be-careful-with-rainy-day-fund.html
My spending priorities are always cities, towns, counties and schools. Any bill that gets money out of Cheyenne and into local control has my support.