Wyoming’s budget basics
According to the National Association of State Budget Officers (NASBO), Wyoming’s total expenditures in fiscal year (FY) 2021 were $4.7 billion, including general funds, other state funds, bonds, and federal funds. NASBO reported that total expenditures across all states in FY 2021 were $2.7 trillion, ranging from $4.7 billion in Wyoming to $512.8 billion in California.
Each state allocates spending and taxes differently among different levels of governments, and local governments often administer programs with state funds, so combined state and local government data show a more complete picture of individual benefits and contributions when comparing states.
Per the US Census Bureau, Wyoming’s combined state and local direct general expenditures were $9.0 billion in FY 2020 (the most recent year census data were available), or $15,641 per capita. (Census data exclude “business-like” activities such as utilities and transfers between state and local governments.) National per capita direct general expenditures were $10,540.
Wyoming’s largest spending areas per capita were elementary and secondary education ($3,042) and health and hospitals ($2,961). The Census Bureau includes most Medicaid spending in public welfare but also allocates some of it to public hospitals. Per capita spending is useful for state comparisons but is an incomplete metric because it doesn’t provide any information about a state’s demographics, policy decisions, administrative procedures, or residents’ choices.
Wyoming’s combined state and local general revenues were $10.0 billion in FY 2020, or $17,324 per capita. National per capita general revenues were $10,933. Wyoming does not levy a corporate income tax or individual income tax. After federal transfers, Wyoming’s largest sources of per capita revenue were charges ($3,339), such as state university tuition and highway tolls, and property taxes ($2,163). Wyoming also collects a relatively large amount of revenue from severance taxes, which are taxes on the extraction of natural resources such as oil and natural gas. Wyoming’s per capita severance tax revenue was $876 in 2020. Severance tax revenue is extremely volatile and can quickly rise and fall with the price and production of natural resources.
Governor Mark Gordon, a Republican, was elected in 2018 with 68 percent of the vote. The next gubernatorial election is in 2022.
Republicans control both the House of Representatives (51 Republicans to 7 Democrats and 2 independents) and Senate (28 Republicans to 2 Democrats), with veto-proof majorities in both houses. Control of the governor’s mansion and each house of the legislature gives Republicans a trifecta in Wyoming. All Wyoming House seats are on the ballot in 2022 because representatives serve two-year terms. Senators serve four-year terms; roughly half the senatorial seats are on the ballot in 2022, and the other half will be up for election in 2024.
Wyoming’s budget institutions, rules, and constraints
Wyoming uses a biennial budget. Wyoming uses one of the least strict processes in implementing its budget. There are no balanced budget requirements, no tax or expenditure limits, and no limits on authorized debt and debt service.
(Note: Some states have informal budget institutions that constrain overall spending growth or a specific expenditure’s growth.)
Wyoming’s current budget
Governor Gordon released his FY 2023-2024 biennial budget proposal and gave his state of the state address in February 2022.and gave his state of the state address in February 2022. The FY 2023-2024 budge was enacted in March 2022.
Wyoming enacted its in April 2021. The supplemental budget reduced the state’s two-year general fund spending form the previously enacted $2.98 billion to $2.57 billion. in April 2021. The supplemental budget reduced the state’s two-year general fund spending form the previously enacted $2.98 billion to $2.57 billion.
Under the American Rescue Plan, Wyoming will receive $1.1 billion in direct state fiscal aid and $134 million in local government aid from the federal government. As of January 2022, Wyoming had spent part of its ARP funds on revenue replacement.
According to NASBO, Wyoming’s recent expenditure totals (general fund spending/total spending, including federal transfers) were:
FY 2022: $1.5 billion
FY 2021: $1.5 billion/$4.7 billion
FY 2020: $1.5 billion/$4.7 billion
FY 2019: $1.5 billion/$4.7 billion
For more on Wyoming’s budget, see
Wyoming’s economic trends
Wyoming’s per capita income (per the Bureau of Economic Analysis) was $65,627 in 2021, ranking 12th among the states. It was above both the national average of $63,444 and the Rocky Mountain regional average of $61,587. The state’s median household income (five-year estimate) was $65,304 in 2020, ranking 20th among the states and above the national average of $64,994. Wyoming’s poverty rate was 10.8 percent in 2020 (five-year estimate), below the national rate of 12.8 percent.
Although Wyoming’s averages tell a story about the entire state, Wyoming is composed of diverse localities. For example, the city of Laramie’s median household income was $47,463, and its poverty rate was 23.9 percent; the city of Rock Springs’s median household income was $74,625, and its poverty rate was 10.2 percent.
Wyoming’s unemployment rate has historically been below the national average, particularly following the Great Recession. In recent years, however, the state’s rate has more closely paralleled the US rate.
Unemployment rates (like other economic indicators) often vary significantly by race and ethnicity. In Wyoming, the average unemployment rate in 2021 was 4.3 percent for white residents and 8.2 percent for Hispanic or Latino residents.