The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 19 - 1/6/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
Representative Shivler: Tax Hikes Are Coming
"Yeah, there are going to be new taxes," said Pinedale and northern Sublette County's State Representative, Jim "Bubba" Shivler of Jackson in an interview Tuesday. "The question is where and if they'll be equitable."
Next month the Wyoming State Legislature meets for is regular budget session facing a $14 million deficit for the 2001-02 deficit. Everyone from the Governor on down believes more revenue will be needed to cover the deficit. Last month, the Legislature's Joint Revenue Committee approved various tax increases including a 1¢ increase in the statewide sales tax, an 8¢ gas tax hike, and extending sales taxes to services and recreation.
Rep. Shivler said he is dead-set against any type of income tax for Wyoming. He believes the proposed increase in fuel tax is the most likely tax hike to be approved by this year's session. "I think the gas tax increase is almost a sure thing," he says.
The Joint Revenue Committee approved an 8¢ fuels tax increase that will raise approximately $48 million in new revenue annually. The proposed increase protects existing exemptions for construction equipment and agriculture.
If approved by the full legislature and signed by the Governor, the fuels tax hike will increase Wyoming current fuels tax from 14¢ per gallon to 22¢.
Mr. Shivler says he could support a fuels tax increase with the current exemptions for construction equipment and agriculture. He says Wyoming's fuel tax is far less than surrounding states. "Our gas taxes are so low, truckers schedule stops in Wyoming just to buy the cheap fuel."
Mr. Shivler is also open to extending sales taxes to cover recreation services such as movie tickets and skiing. He notes that recreation "certainly isn't a necessity."
The representative is less favorable towards the Joint Revenue Committee's proposed 1¢ increase in the statewide sales tax from 4¢ to 5¢. He says he would be hesitant to vote for this proposal or any increase in property taxes, which were proposed by Governor Geringer.
Rep. Shivler says 80-percent of Wyoming's state budget is spent to fund education, the Department of Family Services and Correction. He believes budget cuts can be made in each area.
Concerning education, Mr. Shivler looks to Wyoming's seven Junior Colleges as funding cut targets. He believes the University of Wyoming is "hurting" and supports increased spending for Wyoming's "flagship" and only four-year university. Specifically, he believes more money is needed to increase faculty salaries.
Some of that money he'd like to see come from what is currently being spent on the state's seven junior colleges. "I'd favor increasing University funding at the expense of the junior colleges," he says. He believes the junior colleges have "diluted" the education pool in Wyoming and in doing so have taken money away from the University in Laramie. He openly suggests closing two or more of the junior colleges beginning with those that are near Casper or Laramie.
Mr. Shivler believes the funding of the Department of Family Services deserves a hard look. He says the department's current budget "seems like its in a jumble" and he suspects there are opportunities for cost savings through personnel cuts.
Concerning corrections, Mr. Shivler wonders why the state is sending prisoners to other states for incarceration when it costs less to incarcerate them here. He says it costs Wyoming $40,000/year to keep a prisoner in the state, but $65,000 to pay another state to house that same prisoner.
He'll Run Again
Finally, Mr. Shivler, who will finish his first 2-year term this year, says he is definitely running for reelection in 2000.
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