Wyoming Income Improves, But Still Less Than Years Ago

Wyoming income improves, however the latest state revenue forecast still predicts less money coming in than a few years ago.

I spoke to a state representative and Casper city council member about the latest prediction and what this will mean for Wyoming.

Every October and January the consensus revenue estimating group, or "CREG," releases revenue estimates for the state.

"When they come out with a new report we always want to take a peek at it and see where we're looking. It gives us an idea of what we're gonna be facing. Because essentially all the cities and towns get all of the revenue at the behest of the legislature," said Casper Councilman, Bob Hopkins.

The CREG report doesn't give any breakdowns by county, town or city, but officials still look at the report as a guideline.

"It looks better than what might be expected."

The latest report predicts revenue for 2017-18 will reach over $2 billion, $195 million more than the January estimate.

"I'm optimistic, I think. It's all good news. It's not the absolute best, but it's certainly good news," said Rep. Steve Harshman, Wyoming House District 37.

A positive sign, not only for the state, but for Casper as sales tax revenue estimations this year have beaten previous estimations.

"Probably the biggest concern from the city standpoint is sales-tax revenues. And they're estimating sales tax revenues are up, as I recall, about five percent for the year and that will be helpful to the city of Casper. "

Hopkins says so far this year Casper is about $679,000 ahead.
But he says they don't want to be too optimistic.

"We’d like to see that trend continue and if we do, basically, we're four or five months into the year... We're hoping that that will help us out quite a bit for the year."

However, compared to 2013-14, the state is still looking at an almost 20 percent decrease in revenue.

"The big difference is probably the price of oil. That has a huge effect on the revenues for Casper and especially the state of Wyoming."

A drop in natural gas pricing and coal production has hurt the state, relying heavily on energy as the mineral industry provides more than 70 percent of Wyoming’s revenue.

"We're moving in the right direction, particularly with oil and I think that's really the big story on the CREG report."

Harshman says it’s not just about revenue, but what's been cut too.

"We've cut nearly 400-million with general fund 325 million. School's we’ve cut 75 million. 275 positions at the state level have been eliminated and we've used nearly 700 million in savings the last three years."

He hopes, with all those cuts combined, the legislature can meet in the middle and come close to their budget.

"i mean we still have some problems, no doubt, but Wyoming’s in an extremely strong position, i mean we have zero debt... We have money saved in the bank that we been using"

Adding money can't be saved in revenue challenged times.

"The legislature has done tough work with this thing. And you're seeing it in local governments, local school boards. These are tough decisions cause budgets are people and it's a hard deal"

Harshman says while he is keeping his guard up.

He believes the legislature will find a balance through reductions, revenue increase and a use of savings, which he says is the reason why money is saved.

Hopkins says city council has also considered doing a local version of the CREG group to create a city specific report.

Wyoming income improves, however the latest state revenue forecast still predicts less money coming in than a few years ago.

I spoke to a state representative and Casper city council member about the latest prediction and what this will mean for Wyoming.

Every October and January the consensus revenue estimating group, or "CREG," releases revenue estimates for the state.

"When they come out with a new report we always want to take a peek at it and see where we're looking. It gives us an idea of what we're gonna be facing. Because essentially all the cities and towns get all of the revenue at the behest of the legislature," said Casper Councilman, Bob Hopkins.

The CREG report doesn't give any breakdowns by county, town or city, but officials still look at the report as a guideline.

"It looks better than what might be expected."

The latest report predicts revenue for 2017-18 will reach over $2 billion, $195 million more than the January estimate.

"I'm optimistic, I think. It's all good news. It's not the absolute best, but it's certainly good news," said Rep. Steve Harshman, Wyoming House District 37.

A positive sign, not only for the state, but for Casper as sales tax revenue estimations this year have beaten previous estimations.

"Probably the biggest concern from the city standpoint is sales-tax revenues. And they're estimating sales tax revenues are up, as I recall, about five percent for the year and that will be helpful to the city of Casper. "

Hopkins says so far this year Casper is about $679,000 ahead.
But he says they don't want to be too optimistic.

"We’d like to see that trend continue and if we do, basically, we're four or five months into the year... We're hoping that that will help us out quite a bit for the year."

However, compared to 2013-14, the state is still looking at an almost 20 percent decrease in revenue.

"The big difference is probably the price of oil. That has a huge effect on the revenues for Casper and especially the state of Wyoming."

A drop in natural gas pricing and coal production has hurt the state, relying heavily on energy as the mineral industry provides more than 70 percent of Wyoming’s revenue.

"We're moving in the right direction, particularly with oil and I think that's really the big story on the CREG report."

Harshman says it’s not just about revenue, but what's been cut too.
"We've cut nearly 400-million with general fund 325 million. School's we’ve cut 75 million. 275 positions at the state level have been eliminated and we've used nearly 700 million in savings the last three years."

He hopes, with all those cuts combined, the legislature can meet in the middle and come close to their budget.

"i mean we still have some problems, no doubt, but Wyoming’s in an extremely strong position, i mean we have zero debt... We have money saved in the bank that we been using"

Adding money can't be saved in revenue challenged times.

"The legislature has done tough work with this thing. And you're seeing it in local governments, local school boards. These are tough decisions cause budgets are people and it's a hard deal"

Harshman says while he is keeping his guard up.

He believes the legislature will find a balance through reductions, revenue increase and a use of savings, which he says is the reason why money is saved.

Hopkins says city council has also considered doing a local version of the CREG group to create a city specific report.



 
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