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01102012 WTIC previews 2012 legislature
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WTIC Previews 2012 Legislative Session

WTIC staff and members are contacting legislators to support the Wyoming Office of Tourism budget recommended by the Governor before the session begins on Monday, February 13. Please let your legislators know that you support this recommendation. If you have questions about who has been contacted or about what you can do, email chris@wlra.org or lynn@wlra.org or call 307-634-8816.

Bookmark this website, http://legisweb.state.wy.us. It is the legislative website and it provides a list of all members, a list of all bills and the ability for you to actually LISTEN to the Appropriations Committee hearings and the General Sessions of the Legislature. On the sidebar is a Budget Office click in. You can find all budgets there including the Tourism Budget, which is #66.

The Wyoming Office of Tourism hearing will be mid morning Wednesday, January 11, and will last about an hour. Tune in if you can.

The Governor-recommended budget for the Wyoming Office of Tourism allows the agency to continue its work at the current level with some additional one time funding for special projects including furnishings for the . Click here for a summary of the budget.

WTIC members support the budget because the state of Wyoming plays a key role in a partnership with businesses and local convention and visitors bureaus. There are some projects, such as national advertising, research and public relations resources, that are best provided and probably can only be provided by an agency representing the entire state, the Wyoming Office of Tourism. Click here for the Power of Partnership.

TIMELINE

January 9 – 20 Agency hearings.
January 23 - Markup of state budgets by the JAC -votes on approving, reducing or adding to the Governors budget.
February 13- Legislative session begins Feb. 13 and ends around March 9.

General Background and timeline for the Budget Session

While the state of Wyoming has escaped the financial downturn experienced by other states, the 2012 session will be a debate between two (or more) views of the role of government and how the state’s resources should be allocated.

The debate centers over predictions about future revenue forecasts several years out. Several unknown factors are at play including the federal budget deficit. Federal deficit reductions could translate into as much as 8% less for the state budget in 2013 according to Representative Rosie Berger, Co-Chair of the Appropriations Committee.

Another unknown factor, according to Senator Phil Nicholas, co-chair of the Joint Appropriations Committee, is the price of natural gas, oil, coal and other mining products. Senator Nicholas argues there are factors, both nationally and internationally, that could lead to reduced revenues for Wyoming. He believes that the $1.5 billion in reserve funds should be increased to $3 billion and is seeking a budget that is sustainable in the future. He believes that it might be necessary to gradually reduce some funding for state government.

Senator Nicholas argues that in the 1990’s, the state was running out of reserves and was fortunate that the coalbed methane boom produced revenues that took the state back to financial stability.

Governor Mead, on the other hand, says that investing in the state’s infrastructure is just as important as amassing a larger reserve. He asks the question, if your roof is leaking, do you fix the roof or put money in the bank? For that reason, the Governor supports additional infrastructure spending especially in the case of highways and cities and towns. He also supports some additional funding to grow tourism spending and economic development.

How should any organization approach this year’s budget? It is unlikely that the Appropriations Committee will ADD to the Governor’s budget. The debate seems to be centered around whether or not to reduce funding for state agencies and if so, by how much. 

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