By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor
Wyoming has a money “problem.” For state officials, the problem is what to do with $320 million they did not expect to have available. Options being discussed include putting the extra money into roads or saving it.
The windfall is partially credited to a nearly $180 million general fund surplus from the 2011 fiscal year, which wrapped up in June.
Jim Robinson, senior economist for the state’s Economic Analysis Division, said the state benefited from unexpected investment income and better than anticipated natural gas and crude oil prices.
The good news did not stop there. The state revenue report shows that the state beat expectations for severance taxes and federal mineral royalties by $140 million.
Robinson noted in the state revenue report that spending by consumers and businesses had improved this past fiscal year because employment numbers had been getting better as the year progressed.
“By the end of June, nine of 11 industry sectors had recorded year-over-year gains in jobs,” Robinson said in a statement.
With the 2012 legislative session devoted to crafting a two-year state budget, multiple options are being discussed for what to do with the extra money.
Some state lawmakers and Gov. Matt Mead have shown interest in putting the bulk of available funds toward local governments. Roads could also benefit.
Other state lawmakers would prefer the money be stashed away with fewer federal dollars anticipated in the future.
To view other legislative activities of interest for Wyoming, click here.
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