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Gordon proposes eliminating SIPA and other accounts to simplify Wyoming balance sheet

A statue on the grounds of the Wyoming State Capitol in Cheyenne with the newly rebuilt Herschler Building in the background. (Dan Cepeda, Oil City File)

CASPER, Wyo — In addition to a $515 million reduction in state spending reductions on health, higher education, and corrections, Governor Mark Gordon’s proposed 2021-2022 supplemental budget aims to simplify Wyoming’s “very complex system” of “multiple savings and checking accounts”.

Gordon discussed the proposal at a press conference Monday unveiling the proposed cuts as the state’s economy creeps along with historic shortfalls in mineral and lodging tax revenues.

Gordon likened the state’s various accounts to a “commotion of coffee cans,” which is “further complicated by the fact that there are enormous amounts of borrowing capacities that are built into the budget process.”

Gordon said that programs like the Hathaway Scholarship and Wyoming Department of Transportation can borrow “on an unlimited basis”  from the Rainy Day Fund to cover scholarships and construction. Therefore some portion of the state’s touted $1.4 billion Rainy Day Fund is already committed, Gordon said.

“The way the mechanisms are built into statute, our spending continues until all of our savings are used up,” Gordon said. “This [Legislative] session has got to figure out how to put some brakes on that,” .

Gordon specifically named the Strategic Investments and Projects Account (SIPA) as one of the funds he would eliminate in the supplemental budget. 

Gordon added that the state’s Permanent Minerals Trust Fund is “inviolate,” meaning the principal balance cannot be used to cover general expenses. He added that other trust funds should be used for the specific purposes they were created for.

Gordon’s simplified approach would be “a lot more transparent and accessible” to citizens, he said.

Gordon added that the recommendations in the budget would have to approved by the state legislature.

Read the full 2021-2022 supplemental budget.