Why Don’t Wyoming Residents Get To Share In The Wealth
When I first moved to Wyoming several years ago, I asked a simple question and no one could give me an answer.
How come Wyoming residents don't get a share in all of the oil / gas / wind / solar / mineral profits that come out of our great state, like Alaska does?
Even this past Fall, going into the last general election, I asked the question of a couple of politicians and even they pondered the idea with no comment or conclusion.
CBS News yesterday, reported that Alaska residents are excitedly preparing to receive a check for $1,174, simply because they live there. The population of Alaska is just over 700 thousand residents and over 647 thousand of them will receive this year's dividends check from the profits on the states vast oil wealth.
In 1976, voters passed a constitutional amendment to establish a fund - a permanent fund - to aid the state's economy and help future generations utilizing the states resources. Much like Wyoming, the state government of Alaska relies heavily on oil and gas revenues to operate annually.
Each year, the annual announcement is so highly anticipated that Alaska's Governor can be viewed on TV statewide, tearing open a golden envelope and reading the annual check's amount.
Neither economics or politics are my strong point, but it seems to me that much of our state's resources leave the state and only benefit the companies and people controlling it. These companies probably pay some sort of taxes on these harvested resources, I'm guessing? Or do they? And if so, to what extent are they contributing to our state?
Wyoming's state economy is not as bad off as many other states in the U.S. But it still bugs me when I read about oil, gas or even mineral companies earning "Trillions" of dollars in profits each year. Yet our state struggles to keep roads, schools, tons of other public services and resources like our lands and wildlife - viable, up to date and available for all to enjoy.
Let me ask you this - if Wyoming were to create a state constitutional amendment to help support our states population and economy, with funds from companies profiting on our states resources, would you support it?
No, I'm not running for office. But I think a candidate that ran on a platform promising to work towards a similar state constitutional amendment, would face stiff lobbying and opposition funding, from the energy companies fighting to keep him or her OUT of office.
Does that mean that Big Oil and or Big Energy are running our state for us? Not exactly. But I do feel like they are fleecing Wyoming and we are letting them do it!
I know we generate revenue as well as jobs for the state from these companies and need them for the health of our states economy. But with all that they seemingly receive for doing business in Wyoming - regulatory, business concessions, tax breaks and incentives, etc. - are we as citizens getting our share in exchange?
I know I'm not the most informed on this, But I am genuinely interested in this subject. Can you answer my question?
Why doesn't Wyoming get more of a share in it's energy resources and get to share in it's wealth, similar to Alaska?
Read the complete article about Alaska's Oil Wealth Checks at CBS News Online