Thursday, June 29, 2017

Dishonest Economics A Threat to Wyoming

On Tuesday, the Bureau of Economic Analysis released another set of data on state-level personal income. Here in Cheyenne, the state's de facto chief economist Jim Robinson trips on his own shoestrings in an efforts to turn negative economic news into a success story:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Gross Receipts Tax: Oregon Says No

We are not the only state fighting a Gross Receipts Tax. The Register-Guard,  a newspaper out of Eugene, OR, reports:
Oregon’s Democratic leaders have thrown in the towel on their effort to pass a major new tax on businesses this session. Despite months of negotiations and maneuvering and a mountain of different proposals, the defeat came down to simple arithmetic. Majority Democrats couldn’t get the 18 votes they needed in the 30-member state Senate to pass a gross receipts tax. Gov. Kate Brown, House Speaker Tina Kotek and Senate President Peter Courtney conceded in a joint statement on Thursday that the concept was dead. The Legislature will now shelve major tax changes until the 2019 long session at the earliest, they added, essentially ruling out a renewed effort in a special session or in the short 2018 session.
In other words, the Oregon tax hikers have not given up.

Monday, June 26, 2017

From Youngstown to Gillette

In his song Youngstown, Bruce Springsteen asks,
We sent our sons to Korea and Vietnam, now we're wondering what they were dyin' for
Springsteen, of course, sings about disillusioned and disenfranchised communities in the former Rust Belt. Springsteen blamed the "big boys" who "did what Hitler couldn't do" when they closed down America's steel industries in the 1970s and '80s. 

In reality, our steel industry at that time fell victim to greedy union bosses and to tax-hungry welfare statists in Congress and state capitals, milking everything they could get their hands on for another fistful of dollars to spend on their egalitarian pet projects. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Losing Population And Per-Capita Income

On Wednesday I explained that the Republicans here in Wyoming who stalwartly hold on to the idea of higher taxes, are doing to our state what the Democrats in Illinois are doing to their state by stalwartly holding on to the idea of higher taxes.

If Illinois is not scary enough, perhaps the tax hikers here in Wyoming would like to see some recent data on state-level personal income?

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

The Fiscal Panic Clock Is Ticking

Yes, it is summer, and yes, the pace in state politics slows down from now through Labor Day. However, that does not mean our state's economic crisis takes a break. Government spending is as close to a perpetual motion machine as mankind has ever been. 

Or so it seems when the tax hikers in our state legislature get to set the political agenda. The problem is that their hard work to protect government spending from any long-term cuts is going to have major consequences for our state.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Are We Socializing Health Care in Wyoming?

From now on to Labor Day, I will be cutting down blogging from four articles per week to three. This allows me to do more research for each article and to catch up on problems and matters that are of more long-term nature than during the "political season". Once we get to the fall I will return to the four-per-week schedule.
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During last week's analysis of the latest jobs numbers for Wyoming I discovered that most of our reported hospital employees, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), work for local governments. I found this odd and decided to go back and take a closer look at those particular numbers. 

Friday, June 16, 2017

Wyoming Jobs Update: The Private Sector

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has released its latest set of employment data. Here are the updates for Wyoming, through the month of May.

Figure 1 reports private-sector employment numbers from January 2014 through May 2017:

Thursday, June 15, 2017

Lessons from the Kansas Tax Cuts


Updated with a more detailed account for state spending.
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Since 2011, I have been suggesting that Wyoming is not the low-tax, small government state its unwarranted reputation suggests. Since about that same year, I have been criticizing the Tax Foundation for its clumsy ranking of Wyoming as having the best tax climate in the country. One of my arguments has been to point to our state's poor economic growth record and ask where the benefits are, if it so happened to be that we were indeed a low-tax state.

Truth is, we are not a low-tax state.

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

A Tax-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy of Logic

Radio talk show host Michael Savage once said that Hell is a place where logic does not apply. After the meeting with the Joint Revenue and Education Recalibration committees in Riverton on Monday, I am beginning to wonder if we have encountered a slice of Hell right here in our beloved Wyoming. 

Monday, June 12, 2017

Building the Wyoming Expressway

Good news: the Wyoming Department of Transportation is going to analyze the case for putting tolls on the I-80. This is a step in the right direction under one very important condition, namely that the tolls a) in the short term replace tax increases, and b) in the long term lead to lower taxes. 

It is not clear yet when we will see a formal proposal for tolls, but hopefully WYDOT will have something ready in 2019, when the legislature meets for a general session. 

This is the right move at the right point in time.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Monday, June 5, 2017

The Fiscal Erosion of Federalism, Part 1

This week's blog articles will all be about a topic that readers have asked some interesting questions recently. I will use a common headline and, later on, edit these blogs and publish them as a monograph. 
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Friday, June 2, 2017

Income Growth: Problems and Remedies

Later this month we will get new data on personal income in the states. These will be important numbers, providing a hugely important indicator of where our state's economy is heading. Personal income determines household spending - the largest component of GDP from the demand side - as well as a significant part of tax revenue.

Thursday, June 1, 2017

Trump's Budget and Wyoming, Part 2

Earlier this week I noted that there are some features in President Trump's first budget that could be beneficial to Wyoming. I did not go into detail on those features, though, as the first part of this article was devoted to setting the record straight on Medicaid spending: while critics claim Trump wants to cut federal spending on the program, the fact of the matter is that spending is going to increase. The "cut", which exists only in statist arithmetic, is a reduction in the increase of spending compared to the so called baseline.

The baseline, plain and simple, is a Congressional invention to guarantee a perpetual increase in entitlement spending.