Mineral funds eyed for road projects in Wyoming

| Thursday, October 05, 2006

A leading state official in Wyoming says the state could fix highways in need of repair by tapping into a trust fund.

Secretary of State Joe Meyer told an interim state legislative panel Monday, Oct. 2, that borrowing money from the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund could pay for road and bridge work in the state. The Wyoming Legislature could refill the trust fund with federal mineral royalties, he said.

“You’re taking from your left pocket and putting it into your right,” he told lawmakers, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

Meyer said borrowing from the trust fund is legal and it should be mentioned as a possibility for addressing road repairs that become a bigger problem every day as construction costs rise with inflation. He also cited damage to roads by large trucks and other heavy equipment.

The mineral trust fund is the state’s major long-term savings account. It is intended to provide a permanent source of investment income.

Lawmakers appeared to be open to the idea of borrowing from it, and Sen. Gerald Geis, R-Worland, said he would be interested in pursuing legislation to make it happen, the Star-Tribune reported.

The next legislative session is scheduled to begin Jan. 9, 2007.

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