Wyoming’s revenue picture shows modest positive improvement as lawmakers head into the 2022 Budget Session. On Jan.14 the state’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group updated and upgraded its October revenue forecast, making an additional $38.5 million available for appropriation.
- Why it matters: The state’s Consensus Revenue Estimating Group is tasked every October with writing the fiscal projections to coincide with the preparation of the governor’s budgets. Then in January, those numbers are revised to give lawmakers the latest data ahead of the session, thereby establishing the boundaries for the Legislature’s budgeting process. This go-around, five revenue streams were updated with the most significant increases related to oil and natural gas prices. However, the report noted, “volatility in oil prices is anticipated to continue.”
- History: October’s report saw a dramatic jump in revenue projections, adding $850 million from January 2021. Yet again, that was largely on account of increased oil and gas prices, bringing with it more volatility to Wyoming’s budget. The upswing followed $1.5 billion deficit projections that were made in 2020 on account of the pandemic and a downturn in oil and coal production, which the state heavily depends on.
- Who said what: During last week’s Joint Appropriations Committee meeting CREG Co-Chairman Don Richards opened his presentation of the latest report with a reminder about the nature of the group’s forecasting. Instead of predicting the future, the goal of the work is to help policymakers identify what’s important so that they may make wise financial decisions. He also described a kind of caution taken by the group, “COVID has provided a bitter lesson to forecasters. And that is humility.” Because of that uncertainty, Richards said legislators would not find bold predictions in the January report.
- What else you should know: Part of the group’s work involves receiving reports from the State Treasurer’s Office that detail interest and dividends from the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund and the Common School Permanent Land Fund. However, the group told the committee that it had not received any such updates from that agency since September 2021 and pointed to staff turnover.
- Next up: When the 2022 Legislative Session convenes on Feb. 14, lawmakers will use the report to shape its budget.