By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
A Teton County legislator is hoping his proposed legislation to create a state income tax will at least encourage discussion about ways to help Wyoming through its current fiscal problems.
Rep. Mike Yin, D-Jackson, is the primary sponsor for House Bill 182, which proposes a flat 4% income tax for all Wyoming residents, which would raise an estimated $337 million a year for education funding.
Yin said his goal with the bill, which has not yet been introduced or referred to a committee, is to get legislators discussing funding options for the state.
“The intent is to move the conversation along and see what it takes to get bipartisan support,” he told Cowboy State Daily. “The goal is to have the conversation without tying anyone down.”
A state-level income tax has been proposed a number of times in the past, but has been regularly rejected by the Legislature. In 2020, Rep. Cathy Connolly, D-Laramie, sponsored legislation that would have imposed a 4% income tax on those making more than $200,000 per year.
But Yin said a number of organizations asked about an income tax favored an equal tax on all wage earners.
“A lot of folks that we’ve heard from before want a broader based tax,” said Yin, whose co-sponsors on the bill are Connolly and Sen. Chris Rothfuss, D-Laramie. “This is a bill written so people can’t dismiss it out-of-hand.”
With lawmakers eyeing millions of dollars in cuts for the state’s schools, officials have to look at doing anything they can to maintain needed services, Yin said.
“My thought is my community wants to make sure they have their great education system and tackle other problems in the community and we can’t do that with cuts,” he said.
Yin admitted his idea has not been popular with everyone.
“I have gotten a few emails, including one that said I was acting like a communist,” he said. “But I think our charge is to figure out how to solve problems. This bill by itself closes the deficit in the School Foundation Program fund.”