Guest Column: It’s Time for Collaboration Over Credit

Rep. Barry Crago writes, "I do not know which Washington, DC insider penned Rep. John Bear’s latest opinion piece in Cowboy State Daily. But whoever it is, he or she has no regard for the truth. The piece is scattered with lies and misrepresentations."

CS
CSD Staff

January 28, 20244 min read

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I do not know which Washington DC insider penned Representative John Bear’s latest opinion piece in Cowboy State Daily. But whoever it is, he or she has no regard for the truth. The piece is scattered with lies and misrepresentations. It is a clear attempt to rewrite history. 

The article claims that Rep. Bear and his merry band of obstructionists are responsible for any and all good news on the property tax relief front. The facts show otherwise. 

Last session, I and many of my colleagues voted for any and all bills that would have provided tax relief. We wanted to provide any relief possible, even if not perfect. 

I represent a district that has been hit hard by property tax increases and I owed it to them to do all I could to address the issue. I voted for House Bill 98 (property tax – homeowner’s exemption), House Bill 99 (property tax refund), Senate Joint Resolution 3 (property tax residential property class). I also voted for House Bill 121 (property tax deferral program) and House Joint Resolution 2 (constitutional amendment to allow residential property to be taxed at lower rate). Each of these bills would have reduced tax liability exposure for homeowners. 

However, Rep. Bear and his allies DID NOT vote for all of the available tax relief options – a point conveniently left out of his latest opinion piece. Importantly, these are facts and matters of public record. 

Rep. Bear voted against both the property tax deferral program and the constitutional amendment. Below are two screen shots from the Wyoming Legislature website showing his NO votes.

HB121 vote
HJ02 vote

The writer also seems to forget about Senate File 136 and how Rep. Bear and his supporters joined forces with the Democrats to prevent debate on SF 136 (property tax relief – assessment rate reduction) in the House. The bill would have lowered the assessment rate on residential properties and created a tax reduction for all homeowners this year. Unfortunately, the House didn’t get to vote on passage of the bill because of the actions of legislators who care more about anonymous scorecards than doing good work.

These votes by Rep. Bear were a failure for our conservative Republican values of lower taxes, smaller government, and homeownership. Tax-and-spend liberals surely appreciate Rep. Bear.

Yet, despite the very clear voting record from last session, Rep. Bear and his allies want to preemptively take credit for what those of us responsible and dedicated enough to actually deliver results achieve in this upcoming session. This is nothing but good ole fashioned Washington D.C. politics come to Wyoming. And it’s shameful.

While Rep. Bear and his friends play a Game of Thrones for credit, Wyoming loses. The truth is that his obstructionism has only delayed relief for hard-working families – all in sad attempt to ensure they get the credit.

I do not care who gets the “credit” for tax relief and reform – I just want it done. I hope in this upcoming legislative session, Rep. Bear and his allies can set aside petty games of credit and not vote against good legislation that helps solve the property tax problem simply because it wasn’t their idea. It doesn’t matter, and it shouldn’t.

We should all be working together to solve the property tax issue for our state. It’s time for collaboration over credit. I do not care which legislator brings the best idea. I only care that it is the best solution for the people of Wyoming. If Rep. Bear or any member of the legislature has the best idea, I will vote for it. We don’t need fake heroes in this tax saga, we need hard workers willing to tackle challenges together for their constituents.

I pride myself on being a conservative problem solver. Our issue with rising property taxes is real and it is urgent. So rather than jockeying for credit, or opposing reform to score cheap political points, Rep. Bear and his colleagues should join others and be a part of the solution. 

The people of Wyoming deserve property tax relief, not political posturing. It’s high time we roll up our sleeves and work together – for the people, not the press.

Rep. Barry Crago represents House District 40 in Buffalo

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