The people of Wyoming and the Legislature are going to have to come to the realization that taxes in Wyoming have to change. At present, every person in the state receives a subsidy of about $5,000 from the mineral industry in services rendered to them. The Senate killed a bill last session which could have serious consequences for mineral producing counties, Campbell County in particular, if a coal mine chooses bankruptcy. This is the bill which would change the method of collecting ad valorem taxes on minerals. I have been advocating this change since serving in the Legislature in 1979-82. It allows producers to use last year's taxes for operations in the hope that they will be able to pay them from current income.
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Wyoming also needs to levy an income tax on individuals with incomes over $100,000 per year and on all business. As it is, the state receives no benefit from any non-mineral-producing company other than a small property tax. The mineral companies have been paying a gross product income tax since minerals were first produced and that has been a major factor in supporting the state. We need to pursue the tax on wind generation. The argument is made that other states do not tax the generation but you can bet that the company which owns the turbines does pay a company income tax in most states.
Our highway system is running out of money because expenses grow faster than gas and use taxes. There is a tendency to forget that we are paying less gas tax because most of our cars have doubled their mileage.
Another source of tax money could be to raise our property valuations. This could be done on a gradual schedule. The 9.5 percent could be increased about 2 percent a year. This would also bring the county commissioners and city council members into the equation because then they could have the responsibility to actually levy the tax for the cities and counties instead of just determining how to spend the 8 and 12 mils they receive.
DON THORSON, Newcastle