In a somber press conference on Wednesday, Gov. Mark Gordon sought to clear up the misperception that the state has enough money saved up to fix the state’s revenue crisis.
The governor said the notion that the state has large sums of money “stuffed away in coffee cans” isn’t true and the use of emergency funds won’t solve the problem.
“Sure we can spend the entire rainy day account down over the next two years but then what?,” Gordon said.
“Many people may be thinking we’ve got all this money in permanent funds and other accounts,” he said. “We’ve got to get [the budget picture] down to a very simple approach so people understand there just isn’t that much money.”
To that end, he said the state needs to plan five years out instead of the biennial process so “we know in five years we still have a state we can run.”
“We are approaching this cliff and we don’t have a way to affect a slowdown or a pause,” he said of Wyoming’s education funding mechanism.
Gordon said he hoped new legislators — many of whom ran on anti-tax pledges during the recent primary campaign — take time to learn about the budget and that government then clearly communicate to the public.
“The people of Wyoming need to be assured that what they see in the budget documents is exactly what the state has,” he said.
Gordon said he hoped the public understands the severity of the problem before the state runs completely out of money.
“I know there are several people in the Legislature who feel this (running out of money) has to happen before anyone looks at this,” he said. “But the state has been through this a time or two before.”
He said he spoke to both former Gov. Mike Sullivan and Gov. Jim Geringer about the budget crisis acknowledging that each of them faced similar challenges.
An issue is trust, he said.
“I do think people in Wyoming have got to be satisfied that we are out of money,” he said.