OPINION: Rep. Clark Stith Reflects on 2023 Legislative Session

OPINION: Rep. Clark Stith Reflects on 2023 Legislative Session

Representative Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, speaks during the morning session February 8, 2023 in the House Chamber. Photo by Michael Smith

This opinion piece was written and submitted by Representative and House Speaker Pro Tempore Clark Stith.

The following piece is the opinion of TRN Media’s News Director David Martin, and doesn’t reflect that of TRN Media.

On February 3, the Wyoming Legislature gaveled out the end of the 67th General Session.

I am proud to say we put $1.4 billion into savings, more than any prior Wyoming Legislature. About half of the savings in the supplemental budget bill goes to K-12 savings in the Common School Permanent Land Fund and the Common School Reserve Account. These savings will benefit future generations and provide returns that will help tackle our state’s economic ups-and-downs. Because we know from experience that good times are usually followed by hard times.

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We also spent responsibly, with just $1 in spending for every $3.50 in savings. More than half of the $380 million in spending in the supplemental budget bill is for K-12 education.

We also restored funding for various health programs. For example, approximately 40,000 Wyoming children on Medicaid will have access to a dentist.

We also passed meaningful property tax relief. HB099 provides immediate property tax relief by opening up the eligibility process of an existing property tax program to more Wyoming residents. The bill counters rising home values due to inflation by broadening eligibility for tax refunds to more qualifying residents. The bill bumps up eligibility to 125 percent of median income and allows for a refund of up to 75 percent of a residential property owner’s tax bill.

The House and Senate also passed Joint Resolution 3, which will go before Wyoming voters in the general election in 2024. If approved, the resolution would authorize the Legislature to create a subclass of owner-occupied primary residences. Creating this subclass is critical for the Legislature’s capability to bring bills in the future that could result in more meaningful property tax relief for Wyoming citizens. This resolution was signed by Governor Gordon on March 3.

Wyoming has long benefitted from far-sighted leaders that have prioritized our state’s long-term economic health and diversification. During this session, we strived to continue to build on that legacy, with the goal of positioning tomorrow’s leaders for success. This work is a continual process; it’s never fully done. Yet, this year the Legislature made good progress towards setting our state on a path of sustainable prosperity. And we look forward to continuing to work on behalf of the men and women of Wyoming to build solutions for the challenges of the future.

Stith has served in the Wyoming Legislature since 2017.