Tapping 'rainy day' funds or leaving them alone both have consequences for state

Apr 27, 2017 Mark Gordon, State Treasurer, Cheyenne


What to do with Wyoming's Investments? By now, almost everyone in Wyoming has a sense that it has been raining for a while. And, it seems pretty obvious that the portfolio Wyoming has amassed over the years is critical to Wyoming's future. At $20 billion, it is a major asset.

How we use it can help soften today's trials but, if we are careless or wasteful, our choices today will undoubtedly compromise that portfolio's ability to generate investment income in years to come. Our predecessors left to us a trust. What now is our duty to future generations? All good questions.

In a few forthcoming commentaries, I will touch on recent developments in the Wyoming State Treasurer's office that we believe will make a difference both for today and tomorrow. Taken together, they represent a new direction for Wyoming funds. Still, because the current return generated from that portfolio saves every Wyoming citizen annually nearly $1,800 dollars in taxes, we believe understanding the why and how of what we are planning is important.

Obviously we want to avoid messing up a good thing, but the choices we make as a state today will affect how we fund our state, pay for education, build our buildings, and sustain our low-tax heritage far into the future. There are trade-offs. Neither staying the course nor changing it is without consequence. No pressure...

There is an oft-quoted Chinese curse, "May you live in interesting times." What can we really expect in the next couple of years -- let alone decades? It is all interesting and potentially perilous. What we do know is that Wyoming has wrestled with booms and busts ever since statehood. Each decade since has had its ups and downs. We get that, but the problem is that the booms and the busts are unpredictable, and now, even with the benefit of hindsight, perhaps unprecedented for the state. Still, having some wherewithal and using it wisely can certainly be a powerful antidote to economic uncertainty.

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