CORRECTION: Neiman’s letter has been corrected at his own request, to reflect that he voted against the 2022 budget, though he voted in favor of many amendments to it.
By Rep. Chip Neiman
Wyoming House Majority Floor Leader
After reading the March 18 column in Cowboy State Daily in which four members of House leadership gave their perspective on some of the happenings of the 2023 legislative session, I felt inclined to give my perspective.
As Majority Floor Leader I also serve in leadership. I take my responsibility very seriously, and I was one of the 25 who voted against the “strong, fiscally conservative budget.”
I have heard the saying that teamwork makes the dream work, and maybe that was part of the reason for a conversation informing me that as Majority Floor Leader, I did “two things you should never do in leadership.”
First, I voted against the budget, and second, I voted to override the Speaker to pull the bill to prohibit the teaching of gender ideology and sexuality to young children out of the Speaker’s drawer.
I guess this was an effort to help me understand how to be an effective leader. I was told conservatives can’t govern and my votes were an example of a lack of leadership.
I respectfully disagree. True leadership does not spend nearly twice as much as it saves and call it fiscally responsible. The $1.4 billion put into trust and reserve accounts should generate approximately $65 million in revenue from interest per year. That is awesome, and if we would have been able to put that away or use it to restore services, even better!
But, we also in this budget added $112 million per year in ongoing spending. Put another way, we spent nearly twice as much as we created through investment. I apologize for not being a team player, but I can’t operate that way, and the taxpayers the column’s authors claim we tried to hurt can’t do business that way either.
To me that is not leadership. That is putting those folks’ futures at risk.
Therefore I could not in good conscience vote for the budget.
In the column there was a point raised about our work on property taxes. While opportunities to apply for relief were passed making $8 million in refunds available to qualifying applicants, that was a small portion of the $507 million that came in from property owners in excessive taxes last year.
Those dollars would be best used by the people and businesses they came from. Our budget gave no break to businesses, and we all know that businesses pass these increased costs on to the customers – the folks they say we were trying to hurt will pay the price eventually. How is that helping?
As a kid who grew up in Wyoming and had parents who grew up in Wyoming, who had parents who grew up here as well, I appreciate and am thankful for my Wyoming roots. My parents taught me to respect authority, serve and keep a weather eye on the future.
That is why I voted with those 25 to pull the parental rights bill out of the Speaker’s drawer: because the folks I serve at home wanted that piece of legislation heard. They wanted the rights of parents to be respected and for true local control would be restored – in the parents. It saddens me that legislators are being called out for doing what the people that sent them there want.
From my perspective I have worked diligently to be open, transparent, conservative and a patriot who loves Freedom and Liberty, all things that the column’s authors saw as lacking in my character.
I love Wyoming solutions to Wyoming problems and will continue to work proactively– not reactively– in the legislature as the people back home allow me to. My great grandfather came here in a wagon that wasn’t built here. This might be seen as an out of state solution to a Wyoming problem. Not to me.