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October 2021 CREG Report released

(KOTA)
Published: Oct. 28, 2021 at 6:19 AM CDT
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CHEYENNE, Wyo. (Wyoming News Now) - Wyoming State Lawmakers are at the Capitol for a special session. They’re working on addressing COVID-19 vaccine mandates.

In just a few months, lawmakers will return to Cheyenne for a different purpose. According to the schedule, the 2022 Budget Session will start in February. This week, the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) released its October 2021 Forecast. The report focuses on several different aspects of Wyoming’s revenue.

The report points out that fiscal projections in October are higher than projections in January. Wyoming News Now reached out to Governor Mark Gordon’s office for comments on the report. The Governor will need to present a budget to the Wyoming Legislature by December 1st.

The Governor’s office told Wyoming News Now in an email, “The positive news that emerged from the October CREG report was encouraging, but does not change Governor Gordon’s commitment to ensuring the state lives within our means. He remains committed to a frugal, balanced budget with the understanding that commodity prices such as oil and natural gas experience price volatility.”

The October CREG does highlight some positives in the projections. In the cover memo, the CREG says the revenue forecast for the fiscal year (FY) 2021-2022 biennium increased by about $823 million compared to the January 2021 report*. It’s about $515 million net after removing some investment earnings that are transferred to the Wyoming Permanent Mineral Trust Fund from the General Fund. This comes from page ii of the memo of the CREG.

Yet, the increase in revenue to the general fund doesn’t come without some pandemic realities. In the October CREG report introduction, the group says the “downturn in Wyoming’s economy and associated revenue collections largely attributed to the economic impacts of coronavirus...is evident in multiple revenue and economic statistics experienced in Wyoming.”

The report points out that Wyoming had the lowest General Fund (GF) collections since FY 2017 when you exclude capital gains from the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund. It also lists several other points to consider when looking at the state of Wyoming’s economy and budget. Another of those is the lowest severance tax collections from coal production since FY 2004. The CREG report says this continues a notable declining trend.

Despite the downward trend in coal, the report attributes the increases in forecast revenue to other energy industries. Higher natural gas and oil prices in the second half of FY 2021 contributed to the increase in forecast revenue.

Lawmakers will likely wrap up the special session by the middle of next week, but their work will be far from over. The Governor’s office says he plans to present his budget to the legislature in the middle of November. At that point, some of the focus for legislators will shift to addressing any financial concerns they still need to address moving forward.

*This story was updated on October 28, 2021, to add clarity about the increased revenue for the General Fund.

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