Governor Gordon’s Budget Proposal Addresses Inflation, Saving for Future

Governor Gordon’s Budget Proposal Addresses Inflation, Saving for Future

Governor Mark Gordon. Wyoming Government photo

CHEYENNE — Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced his 2023-2024 supplemental budget proposal Friday morning in a press conference in which he highlighted his plans to address inflation and his intent to set aside savings for the state’s future.

Despite inflation hitting the pocketbooks of Wyomingites across the state, Governor Gordon said Wyoming has done fairly well compared to expectations.

“Our economy has performed better than anybody could have anticipated,” Gordon said during the press conference.

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Gordon said $913 million was left in surplus in the general fund and budget reserve account that could be used to meet the challenges and opportunities now facing Wyoming.

He added the state has been successful so far in diversifying the economy, which he said provides more certainty for the future. Though the state has seen higher revenues than predicted, Gordon said the government has the responsibility to not “squander” the opportunity to set aside savings for the future.

“Tax revenues have diversified – in fact, our diversification index is the highest it’s been in 40 years according to economic analysis – that makes the tasks in this supplemental budget complex,” he said in a press release. “But in all of this, we must also remember that our fiscal responsibility requires that we set aside some of this surplus in savings.”

The proposed budget would put nearly half of the $913 million surplus into savings to generate ongoing revenues that will benefit the state in the coming years and future generations. The largest contributions to savings of $412 million,would go to the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund.

“This Trust Fund in 2021-2022 generated a third of the general fund revenue necessary to pay for our State’s expenses saving taxpayers thousands of hard-earned dollars. Putting $412 million into the Trust now will pay dividends in saved taxes while ensuring our income in future years is more dependable,” he said in his budget message.

He added that increasing the state’s savings now will help pay for essential services in coming years such as the state’s prison system, healthcare, and family services.

Increasing our savings now will help pay for services we have all agreed are essential.

~ Governor Mark Gordon

He also proposes moving funds into the Common School Permanent Land Fund.

“This fund generates revenue from investments to pay for K-12 education. Investing in our children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren is one of the wisest things we can do,” Gordon said.

This supplemental budget also leaves $2 billion in the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Fund, more commonly known as the rainy day fund. 

Addressing Inflation; Other Areas of Focus

Gordon said during his press conference that he is “acutely aware” of how high inflation has impacted households, businesses, and especially those with fixed incomes.

The Governor said his proposal addresses inflation on multiple fronts, including funding for property tax relief, capital construction projects previously authorized by the legislature, an external cost adjustment for education services, employee compensation, and healthcare. 

Gordon identified multiple areas where the impacts of inflation should be directly addressed.

“We must respond to inflationary costs of construction, bring our employee compensation closer to market, set ourselves up to power the nation toward energy independence and address the rising costs of homeownership for our most vulnerable citizens,” he said.

During his press conference, Gordon noted that there are hundreds of vacant positions in correctional facilities, the Wyoming Highway Patrol and Wyoming Department of Transportation in the form of snowplow drivers. He said his budget aims to address this shortage.

He added that over $50 million is to be allocated to thoughtfully approach meeting additional construction needs across the state, but also to make sure that Wyoming has the hiring capacity to finish the projects that are started.

Additionally, Gordon has proposed allocating funding in several urgent areas to maintain safe and healthy communities and protect Wyoming’s economy, including:

  • Addressing mental and behavioral health service gaps,
  • Hardening cyberinfrastructure,
  • Enhancing security at state prisons,
  • Protecting Wyoming’s natural resource industries by controlling invasive species and predators.

He also addressed cost of living adjustments (COLA), as the last one was in 2008. With inflation, he said this issue causes “a great deal more concern”. He said the state is looking at options to bring a potential COLA for those who have been in retirement for a period of time, and are thus on fixed incomes.

Gordon said he is proposing investments to continue advancing Wyoming as a global energy and natural resource leader, as well as looking at approaches meant to ensure the state maintains an exceptional education system and workforce that is responsive to 21st-century challenges.

“Now is the time to demonstrate innovation and entrepreneurship, respect for private initiative and property, and community-mindedness that all power the American Dream,” he said in a press release. “The sun is shining, and the fields are ready–we need to make some hay.”

Governor Gordon’s supplemental budget proposal can be found here. Wyoming residents are also encouraged to go to wyomingsense.gov for a further look at the budget.