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Big returns likely to ease budget concerns

May 17, 2013 - By Ben Neary, The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- Gov. Matt Mead's office says the latest Wyoming revenue figures continue to support his position that the state probably won't have to cut agency budgets in the coming year.

The state's Economic Analysis Division issued a report on state revenues this week. It says that as of the end of March, Wyoming's multi-billion-dollar Permanent Mineral Trust Fund was holding $218 million in realized but undistributed capital gains. Other state investments hold another $105 million in capital gains.

If things hold steady, those capital gains will transfer to the state's General Fund in July.

The state currently is operating on a two-year $3.2 billion general funds budget. The report states that by counting the investment income, the state's General Fund and Budget Reserve Account revenues are running more than 37 percent ahead of projections.

Bill Mai, head of the Economic Analysis Division, serves as co-chairman of the state's Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, a panel of state officials who predict state revenues. Mai said that the group has a policy of not predicting capital gains on state investments.

Mead early this year vetoed legislation that would have required state agencies to propose a range of budget cuts. He has said he would propose cuts if the state's financial situation made it necessary.

Renny MacKay, spokesman for Mead, said this week that the report shows Wyoming's revenue picture is in good shape as the end of the fiscal year draws near.

"This report allows the state to prepare the upcoming budget using a measured approach that balances revenues and expenses," MacKay said. "The governor had vetoed the automatic reduction language but pledged to make adjustments if the revenue picture came in lower than expected. At this point downward adjustments do not appear to be necessary."

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