Wyoming’s government spending is the single biggest problem facing Wyoming.
For the last ten years, the drums have been beating relentlessly about the need for spending reform and Wyoming’s budgetary issues. In 2017, even the big-spending Governor Mead recognized the problems Wyoming faces and commissioned the Alverez and Marsall to provide a blueprint to cut spending. The report proposed slashing the number of middle management government jobs, among other reforms. The proposal concluded it could save Wyoming $200 million per biennium for a one-time outlay of $30 million. Exactly none of these reforms have been enacted.
Which makes me ask, who in the current Wyoming legislator is a frugal legislator? To find out, I did a bit of contemplating and decided that scoring the House and Senate budget bills from the standpoint that legislators that voted to decrease spending are the legislators who are truly frugal and deserve the title ‘Budget Conservative.’
I went through HB-0001 and SF-0001, the budget bills, and reviewed every recorded vote. If a vote sought o decrease spending or prevent a spending increase, the preferred vote was an ‘aye.’ If a vote looked to increase spending or prevent a spending decrease, the preferred vote was a ‘nay.’ The wiz-bang Evidence-Based Wyoming web application then scored the preferred votes against all the votes cast by the legislators.
The results are on the Budget Conservatives for Budget Session 2022 issue page.
What does it tell us about the House of Representatives?
The average Democrat voted against new spending 15.6% of the time.
The average Republican voted against new spending 44.2% of the time.
The news alone doesn’t bode well for low-tax Wyoming, especially if we want to rein in spending and prevent the imposition of new taxes.
But there is good news: John Bear, Chip Neiman, and Mark Jennings, to name a few, are at the top of the table. In comparison, big-spending Democrats were the most likely to support new spending, rarely voting against spending cuts.
Sadly there is plenty of bad news.
Rep. Eric Barlow and Rep. Steve Harshman are among Wyoming legislators’ most extreme big spenders. Former Speaker of the House Steve Harshman (R-Natrona) votes for more spending than every single Wyoming Democrat legislator. Rep. Harshman narrowly outdid Speaker Barlow (R-Campbell/Converse) as a mere two Democrat legislators voted for more spending than Rep. Barlow.
Worse yet, Republican Representatives MacGuire, Harshman, Sweeney, Obermuller, Newsome, Barlow, Paxton, O’Hearn, Olsen, Sommers, Henderson, and Flitner all voted for more spending than the Democrat leader Rep. Connolly.
With nearly a quarter of Republicans voting for more spending than the most prominent Democrats, it is clear why the grassroots are fed up with politics as usual.
I urge you to educate yourself about your legislator’s actual record. The more you know, the better you can protect low-tax Wyoming.