Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Is Taylor Haynes The Guy for the Job?

It was not very surprising that Taylor Haynes would get into the gubernatorial race. He has built a momentum for himself over the past several years, and carved out a distinct "home ground" as a strict constitutionalist. It is good to see him in the race, along with Harriet Hageman.

In fact, it is hard to see who could top the two of them and make this race even more interesting (unless a certain Lummis changes her mind...). Between Hageman and Haynes, we have two candidates who cover two of the three most important political issues of our time, here in Wyoming.
Hageman is taking on the regulatory super-state while Haynes never takes his eyes off the Constitution. Within their respective profile issue - unwavering battle against regulations and a Scalia-style strict constitutionalism - they will do a whole lot of good for Wyoming. 

There is just one issue missing from their agendas. 

Our state's economic crisis. 

Harriet Hageman dipped her toe into that issue during her announcement speech, pledging to resist the use of discretionary revenue to pay for permanent spending. That is a good idea, and it is a necessary component of any effort to rescue our state's economy. But it is far from enough. 

I will give Hageman credit for wanting to implement a regulatory renovation plan for Wyoming, a plan that would vastly simplify state and local regulations. This would reduce the burden of doing business in our state, and could have multiplier-style effects in concert with the Trump administration's determined efforts to reduce federal regulations. We would certainly reap some macroeconomic benefits from her deregulation efforts, and every such effort is warmly welcome in a struggling economy like ours. 

However, deregulation - necessary as it is - is not sufficient. Let us not forget that the cost of regulations to businesses is approximately $50 for every $100 they pay in taxes. That is a big hidden tax - but it is also only half the cost of taxes. The big economic boost comes from shrinking government spending, substantially and permanently.

Taylor Haynes's strict constitutionalism also has the potential to do a lot of good for Wyoming. If we can rein in our state government to its enumerated powers, we can start reforming away government spending that falls outside of those powers. 

The problem is that so far, Haynes has not presented any ideas of how he would like to see those reforms done. In his case, unlike Hageman, we have his previous campaign to draw on; without going into details (he may very well want to update his platform from 2014) I cannot find anything there that gives us any reasonably good idea of what Haynes would want to do about such spending programs as K-12 education, Medicaid and economic development. 

With his announcement of his 2018 candidacy, Haynes did mention that he wants to take a fresh look at our educational system:
Faced with the potential of inheriting a struggling Wyoming economy, Haynes says there are no magic bullets. “It takes time and effort to accomplish this task. Most of all it takes a commitment to our greatest natural resource: our children. A fresh, and comprehensive, look is needed for our entire educational system, K-16, so that we can endow our children with the skills and knowledge they need to succeed,” he said.
This is a good opening salvo, comparable to Hageman's commitment on discretionary revenue. But just like Hageman, Haynes has merely delivered a political teaser. 

It is encouraging that Haynes acknowledges that "there are no magic bullets" in the efforts to shrink government spending. He is absolutely right: the transformation of the state budget, from being acutely fiscally unsustainable today to something that taxpayers can afford even in hard times, is a long, arduous process that will require the full attention of two gubernatorial terms. Only then can we bring the reforms from start to finish. 

Haynes, being the thoughtful and intelligent man he is, will hopefully let us know more about his reform ideas in the next few weeks. I am confident that he understands precisely what a precarious situation our state finds itself in.

Perhaps it is encouraging that Hageman has not yet given any details - any - on how she would like to address our state budget situation. She is a smart woman with a ton of integrity. It would only be logical that she wants to hone her ideas before she talks in more detail about what she wants to do on the fiscal and economic front.

That said, both Haynes and Hageman need to get to the state budget, and to the Wyoming economy. They both need to develop reform plans for the structural reduction of government spending. We cannot afford four more years with a governor who will poke around in the outskirts of big spending programs to try to find quick fixes that will squeeze another overloaded state budget through the needle's eye of budget balancing. 

The fact that Hageman and Haynes have not yet delved into the budget issue only goes to show what a monumental task spending reform is. They should both take some time and carefully craft reforms that will actually make a difference.

Let us hope they don't take too much time. In addition to losing our middle class and our young to other states due to the dystopian outlook for the Wyoming economy, we also have a state budget that will very soon be $400 million in the red. Per year. And growing. 

We also have the Taxmageddon tax package that threatens to speed up the demise of the Wyoming economy. Between it, the deficit and our frail economy, our state is in urgent need of brave, innovative political leadership. 

Hageman and Haynes have so far shown themselves to have the courage and integrity it takes to be, respectively, a deregulation champion and a guardian of the constitution. Let us see if either one, or both, will step up and become a champion of much, much needed spending reform.  

1 comment:

  1. Your thought process is not taking into account that being a strict constitutionalist will bring about its own bloated budget repairs. Every state individually and the entire USA the farther they get away from their respective constitutions falls further and further behind economically as well.