Recently, Gov. Mark Gordon endorsed a northern Colorado county’s desire to secede from Colorado and become part of Wyoming. In response, a group of (fictional) Teton County residents offer the following counter-proposal: Instead of a one-way deal, execute a county-for-county trade and make Teton County the “Upper Peninsula of Colorado.”
“Just like Weld County in Colorado, we don’t fit in with the rest of our state,” said carpenter Diego Ripper from Jackson Hole, a mountain community in Teton County that votes more Democratic by several orders of magnitude than the rest of Wyoming. Ripper’s group, Leavers for an Economically Feasible Tetons, call themselves “billionaire wilderness refugees,” acknowledging the community’s vast income inequality as described in Justin Farrell’s 2020 book about Jackson Hole. However, LEFT members believe the county swap could help alleviate the community’s widening income gap.
“We estimate that Teton County could generate at least $500M in revenues for Colorado, under their tax system,” said accountant Jerry Gaper, noting that Wyoming doesn’t levy an individual or corporate income tax on Teton County’s wealthy residents.
However, LEFT maintains that they have more to offer than just the highest per capita income of any county in the country as noted in Farrell’s book. “We are a young, healthy and diverse community with a modern, integrated economy,” said software engineer and snowboarder Olivia Crail. “It doesn’t seem like anyone on the state level wants that.”
“We could help Colorado meet its clean energy goals, as our energy is mostly hydro- and wind-generated,” said solar installer Jeremy Brahthel. “And add another couple million in taxes with all the weed we consume.” To date, Wyoming’s Legislature has refused to pass a law making even medical marijuana legal.
Teton County is home to two first-class national parks, Grand Teton and Yellowstone, that attract over 4 million visitors annually. Valuing wildlife and the environment has created a strong economy while the rest of the state’s dependence on the fossil fuel industry is causing state and local budgets to hemorrhage. Many have already been slashed.
“We generate more than $200 million in property and sales taxes, a lot of which goes back to the state. But Cheyenne’s response is to threaten to put casinos next to our national parks,” said ecotour guide and avid angler Callie Batis. “We think Colorado’s tourism and outdoor recreation folks would really get behind this idea.” LEFT has invited Colorado Gov. Jared Polis to tour the county. “We won’t forget to show him Grand Targhee, either,” added Batis.
When asked how it would work for Colorado to claim to be the new home of Yellowstone National Park, web marketing specialist Emily Locoro said, “Montanans want you to believe Yellowstone is in their state, this wouldn’t be any different.”
“The Wyoming Legislature is a gut-shot elk, stunned and stumbling back to a safe hiding place in anticipation that the burning will just go away, eventually,” said backcountry hunter and financial analyst Tom Booney. “But they’re just going to bleed out, cutting education funding instead of modernizing the tax system.”
“This makes it hard for us to recruit good teachers. Wyoming’s leaders want to believe we can make coal great again. How did that work out over the past four years?” observed Wilson mom Aubrey Etan.
“We could finally have state funding for pre-kindergarten,” chipped in Maria Dama Trabajador, who works three different jobs most of the year.
Asked about potential downsides for Wyoming in this exchange, 90-day-wonder Peter Panning replied, “To be honest, I don’t know why Gov. Gordon would want to expand the state population by more than 50% — more than 300,000 people live in Weld County. With our current tax structure, that will cost Wyoming billions of dollars more than the revenue it brings in. And doubling down on the oil and gas industry is so yesterday.”
“I guess they could tax all the wind development out there,” said foundation officer and skier Bunny Silver Fox. “That’ll be popular.”