Monday, February 19, 2018

Bills to Be Keep an Eye On

Now that the legislature has closed the introduction window, it is time for a first review of the bills to be aware of.

Before we do that, though, let me once again point out that the defeat of Taxmageddon was only a battle victory. The political war against tax hikes continues.

With that in mind, here is a quick rundown of important or interesting bills to keep our eyes on:

HB 1 - The Budget. Finally on file... Now we can take a closer look at it. Which we will.

HB 32 & 33 - School funding. These bills are referred to the Appropriations committee. These bills propose changes to the formulas for maintenance and capital construction funding.

HB 153 - Expand Hathaway. The idea is to extend lower tuitions to out-of-state students. While I sympathize with the idea of bringing more students to the University of Wyoming, the better way to attract more students is to bring in more private funds, strengthen the competitiveness of faculty research, broaden the intellectual capacity into innovative areas, and to reduce the university's inordinate reliance on taxpayers.

HB 185 & 186 - Distribution of investment income. These two bills may seem to be inconspicuous in themselves, but they would raise the bar for future tax reforms. It is better to hold off on any new distribution formula rewrites and instead concentrate on a fundamental change to our state's tax system (which, of course, would have to be preceded by fundamental spending reform).

HJ 7 - TABOR. I have already discussed this bill, and my conclusion stands: it is a worthwhile initiative that, with some modifications, could help strengthen taxpayers vs. spendoholic legislators.

SF 98 - Exemptions from severance taxes. I understand the goal behind this bill, and while we are waiting for some real spending-and-tax reform, this type of rebate or exemption is worth the while. However, a future tax reform should come with a ban on tax exemptions, just to make sure that future governors and legislatures do not abuse the power that tax exemptions provide them with.

SJ 4 - Changing the authority over school funding. This one seems to be good. It remains to be seen if it provides enough wiggle room to be used as a door opener toward real school-choice reform. 

The efforts to establish crypto-currencies in Wyoming is worth a separate comment. See you back here tomorrow!

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