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Our View: GOP should reconsider LSRA funds


We get a lot of press releases at The Green River Star.

A lot of them we ignore because we don’t think they’d have a lot of interest from our readers. Things like book signings and events in Utah or information about what the Buffalo Bill Cody Museum’s event plans are come into our inbox frequently. However, we did get something that shows how clueless the GOP leadership in the Wyoming Legislature is.

Monday night, a release was sent out with statements from Wyoming GOP Chairman Matt Micheli praising Republican legislators for their work in creating the $1.8 billion Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, often referred to as the state’s rainy day fund. He also used space to say the GOP will be careful to spend those funds while criticizing state Democrats for wanting to “decimate” the funds.

What we find troubling is the GOP is also the group suggesting cuts to education funding in Wyoming, possibly prompting a legal battle with the state’s school districts if the cut goes through. They’re the ones acting like federal Abandon Mine Lands funding is free money while ignoring the original problems those funds are meant to address and proposing their use for the University of Wyoming.

Sweetwater County, along with other industrialized counties, has been forced to deal with the consequences of a boom-and-bust economy more than other counties in the state. When times are good, those counties deal with the negative side effects associated with a boom, such as increased crime rates. Yes, those counties benefit from increased revenues, but as we’ve seen with the oil and gas boom, a lot of that money ends up being used to deal with impacts from the economic boom. During a bust, those counties are the first to face reduced revenues. Sweetwater County politicians have long been critical of the state’s willingness to benefit from our good fortunes while refusing to send anything back, and we agree with their thoughts.

As we’ve said before, saving money is a great goal, but saving money without a plan to use it isn’t the best use of taxpayer funds. Money in the LSRA should go to local governments. It should also go to fund education.

It should be spent helping the people of Wyoming weather the economic downturn the state is in. That $1.8 billion should be opened up for the benefit of everyone until the economy improves.

Otherwise, what’s the point in saving for a rainy day?


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