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Who are the big spenders in the Wyoming House of Representatives?

Analysis of Wyoming Legislative Spending: Eyebrows Raised and Jaws Dropped

A deep dive into the fiscal antics of Wyoming’s legislators has unveiled some eyebrow-raising revelations, thanks to a dataset that doesn’t shy away from exposing the budget amendment votes. This preliminary scrutiny, ripe for future eyebrow-raising revisions, slices through the legislative fluff to reveal the cold, hard cash truths, painting a vivid picture of where the state’s money could be— but isn’t—saved.

The results are astonishing and can be seen here. (https://tinyurl.com/EBW24FinalSpenders)

Key Take Aways

  • Rep. Allred-R voted for the most spending, totaling 791.3 million dollars.
  • Nine Republicans outspent all Democrats (Reps. Allred-R, Newsome-R, Harshman-R, Northrup-R, Sommers-R, O’Hearn-R, Henderson-R, Berger-R, and Westin-R)
  • 30 Republicans voted to spend more than the lowest-spending Democrat, Rep. Provenza, who voted for 413.6 million dollars in spending.
  • Rep. Bear-R, leader of the Freedom Caucus, voted to save 717.3 million dollars, while Speaker Sommers, leader of the Wyoming Caucus, voted to spend 704.7 million dollars, a 1.4 billion dollar difference.
  • Rep-Ward-R was the biggest saver in the legislature, voting to save 722.3 million dollars.

Methodology: Cutting Through the Fiscal Fog

The approach here is brilliantly simple: spending bad, saving good. Forget the grey areas; this analysis is all about the black and white, turning the convoluted budgetary ballet into a straightforward showdown of dollars and sense. It’s a refreshing slap in the face to the usual humdrum, peeling back the curtain on who’s penny-pinching and who’s pocket-burning.

Spotlight on Fiscal Facepalms

Now, let’s talk about the Republicans, shall we? Some have been caught red-handed in a plot twist worthy of a daytime drama, shoveling out more cash than their Democratic counterparts. So much for the age-old tale of conservative frugality!

Cue the walk of shame for the Republicans who’ve embraced their inner spendthrifts, overshadowing even Dems in the dash to deplete. Rep. Provenza, the most frugal Democrat, parted with a mere 413.6 million dollars, closely tailed by Rep. Yin. Yet, thirty—yes, count them, thirty—Republicans thought, “Hold my beer,” and decided to outspend them. Talk about fiscal plot twists!

The Republicans who outspent the thrifty Dem duo of Rep. Provenza and Rep. Yin include Reps Larsen, Zwonitzer (of the Dave variety), Conrad, Walters, Eklund, Washut, Stith, Chadwick, and Davis. Each is competing in their own unofficial ‘Spend More’ gala.

That group is followed by the second Democrat duo of Rep. Storer and Rep. Sherwood. These Dems couldn’t find a way to spend more than Republican Reps Obermueller, Oakley, Nicholas, Olsen, Dan Zwonitzer, Clouston, Crago, Byron, JT Larson, Lawley, Niemiec, and Wylie. It seems like a spending competition where the GOP is smashing records!

The final Democrat is Rep. Chestek, who was outspent by nine different Republicans, most notably Speaker Sommers and former Speaker Harshman. No wonder Wyoming is always in dismal fiscal shape. The other Republicans are Reps Western, Berger, Henderson, O’Hearn, Sommers, Northrup, Harshman, and Newsome.  

And not to be outdone, standing tall at the top of the spending chart is Rep. Allred, championing a jaw-dropping spending binge totaling over three-quarters of a billion dollars. Is there a spending trophy in the works? Because it looks like we’ve found our champion!

Peering Into the Fiscal Crystal Ball

What’s the difference between the Freedom Caucus and Speaker Sommers’ Wyoming Caucus? 1.4 billion dollars, according to a review of spending in HB-1 done by Evidence-Based Wyoming.

This figure isn’t just arbitrary—it starkly delineates the fiscal ideologies between Rep. Bear of the Wyoming Freedom Caucus and Speaker Sommers of the Wyoming Caucus. They embody the conflict of visions of their caucuses, with Bear saving 717.7 million dollars and Sommers spending 704.7 million dollars. 

In today’s Wyoming, where housing price increases drive skyrocketing inflation, such figures are monumental, directly impacting the state’s affordability and residents’ financial stability.

The tug-of-war over state finances is where the Freedom Caucus and Wyoming Caucus draw their battle line. The Freedom Caucus holds the line on conservative, budget-conscious governance. In contrast, the liberal Sommers and Wyoming Caucus pushes for expansive spending, eventually necessitating higher taxes. This fiscal face-off plays out in the property tax reform arena, where proposed affordable and predictable caps on property taxes are thwarted by the Wyoming Caucus and others preferring temporary fixes over long-term stability.

On reflection of the 1.4 billion dollar divide, the implications are profound:

  1. Upholding Frugality: The Freedom caucus embodies Wyoming’s penchant for lean governance, contrasting sharply with the expansive fiscal appetites embodied by Sommers’ group.
  2. Enabling Meaningful Reforms: Fiscal restraint could unlock pragmatic property tax solutions, preventing the displacement of longstanding residents.
  3. Safeguarding Future Prosperity: A disciplined budget forecloses on the need for burdensome taxation tomorrow, preserving the state’s economic liberty.

As Wyoming stands at a fiscal crossroads, today’s choices will script tomorrow’s legacy. Will Wyoming adhere to its roots of prudent fiscal management, or will it veer towards becoming the “Taxachusetts of the West”? The snark here isn’t just for laughs—it’s a poignant reminder that the path we choose now may very well define our economic identity for future generations.

While this exposé offers a no-holds-barred look at the current spend-a-thon, it’s just the opening act. The real meat of the matter—understanding the whys and the hows, the shoulds and the coulds—awaits further, more granular scrutiny.

Yet, this preliminary showdown sets the stage for a much-needed reflection on fiscal responsibility, transparency, and the bedrock of sensible state governance.  

It’s a wake-up call, Wyoming: will we keep our wallets in check, or will we let the spending fiesta continue? The choice is ours, and it’s time to choose wisely.

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