With Wyoming's 62nd legislative session starting Tuesday, one big issue facing lawmakers is the state's budget. There are a lot of ideas on how to raise revenues. One gaining momentum is a fuel tax increase.
It's that time of year again. The state capitol is buzzing with politicians, all gearing up for 40 days of early mornings, long days, and likely some heated debates.
New House Speaker Thomas Lubnau (R-Campbell County) says the most important issue they face is the state's budget. "We've seen declining mineral revenues, declining coal revenues" he points out.
There are a lot of ideas on how to boost revenues. One that's gaining momentum is a $.10 fuel tax increase.
Erin Taylor of the Wyoming Tax Payers Association says close to 15 groups back the idea. "It's really grown to have some diverging interests" she says.
One group that doesn't support the fuel tax is the Wyoming Liberty Group. It says the government needs to focus on its spending not its revenues. "The government has a spending problem, not a revenue problem" says the group's Maureen Bader.
"Its spending doubled in the last ten years and still it hasn't created long term funding for roads. This means the government's problem is systemic. They can't prioritize spending."
They're going to have to within the next 40 days. "It requires some hard decisions, but at the end of the day, the budget has to balance" says Lubnau.
Whether or not that means passing a fuel tax increase has yet to be seen.
Note: If passed, the fuel tax would raise the tax from $.14 to $24.