Following a federal judge’s ruling that the Biden administration’s indefinite freeze on federal oil and gas leasing was an overreach of executive power, oil and gas leasing on federal lands will resume next year.
That’s the good news. Wyoming’s December 2020 lease sale before President Biden’s executive order brought in close to $7 million from bids on 181 parcels. But we hope Wyoming’s governmental organizations don’t get overly optimistic about the money that is going to be flowing into the state’s coffers.
Before the federal government dumped CARES Act money all over, state and local governments were in a pinch. Revenues were plunging, costs were rising and budgets were getting hacked.
Then with CARES money flowing liberally, the airport could start new projects, schools didn’t have to make severe cuts to extracurricular activities, Park County could give all its employees a raise and the City of Cody could accomplish some long-delayed infrastructure projects.
That’s all well and good. We’re happy that could all be done. However, the Band-Aid the CARES Act provided and the income from oil and gas leasing will not fix all of the revenue problems governmental agencies will face in the future.
At some point a Band-Aid gets ripped off and that hurts.
We are not proposing a state income tax or other greatly increased taxes, but now is not the time to just hope money will flow again through oil and gas leasing or federal dollars.
Now is the time for all governments in the state to start projecting future needs and, just as importantly, project ways to increase revenues, cut budgets or a combination of the two.
Federal government handouts and oil and gas leases temporarily stop budget bleeding, but they are not permanent solutions.
It is imperative to begin the planning process now before the Band-Aid gets ripped off and we are right back where we were two years ago.