Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Good News from the Revenue Meeting

I am currently in Thermopolis attending the Joint Revenue Committee meeting. This morning they heard testimony about Tax Reform 2000 and they discussed the Gross Receipts Tax. There is a lot to be said about the discussion so far, and there will be even more to talk about when the committee has covered the rest of today's agenda, which primarily includes sales and property taxes. For now, though, here is a quick update.

Before we get to the good news, a quick recap of the time wasted so far. The committee heard a lengthy and technical testimony from Nicole Kaeding, economist with the Tax Foundation. She was invited by co-chairman Madden to talk about both positive and negative sides of a Gross Receipts Tax. She faithfully followed through, but left the committee with two main points:

1. A Gross Receipts Tax is not a good idea in itself, because it is complicated. However, there are some pitfalls that the state could avoid if it follows a list of technical design aspects of the Gross Receipts Tax that the Tax Foundation will happily provide.
2. An income tax is preferable to a Gross Receipts Tax. A corporate income tax is very preferable to a Gross Receipts Tax.

In other words, the Tax Foundation flew someone out here to tell the welfare statists in the legislature that if they really want to raise the tax burden on Wyoming taxpayers, the Tax Foundation will be happy to help.

Now, let us move toward the good news. After Kaeding's dry and non-contributive testimony, a few others, including Kendall Kroeker and Representative Winters, explained how problematic a GRT would be to businesses. There was no mincing words in Kroeker's testimony, and Winters was crisp clear as well. 

Senate President Bebout also testified. He made three things clear, two of which were encouraging to hear:

a) We have a spending problem.
b) Spending cuts before tax hikes.
c) It is possible to make a GRT work in Wyoming.

Adding this to Chairman Peterson's previous statements that spending cuts must go before tax hikes, it is clear that your voices are making a difference. The message is getting through: Wyoming taxpayers are already overburdened, and it is time for government to downsize itself.

There is a long, long way to go to convince the legislature of parental-choice reform in our K-12 school system, or to go ahead with vouchers in Medicaid and free-market strengthening reforms in health care. But the very fact that the conversation now is turning in favor of "cuts first", shows that you, Wyoming voters, taxpayers and hard working providers for our families, are making a difference. 

Our elected officials are listening. It is not enough, but it is a very good start of what we need to accomplish to turn our state around.

More to come. 

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