WYOFILE – by Andrew Graham | FEBRUARY 7, 2017
A growing faction of GOP lawmakers who say voters will not accept tax increases triumphed late Friday as the House voted against raising the sales tax to solve Wyoming’s education funding crisis.
The House rejected first a two-cent increase and then a half-cent increase in sales taxes.
Taking the state sales tax from four to six cents on each dollar of sales would have generated an estimated $300 million a year, according to Rep. David Northrup (R, HD-50, Powell), chairman of the House Education Committee. The revenue would have addressed state education funding problems without deep cuts to the education system. Lawmakers who spoke against the measure said they couldn’t bring a tax increase back home to voters.
Passing a two-cent tax increase by Wyoming’s conservative representatives would have been surprising, but the narrow rejection of the half-cent tax increase showed how power has shifted further right in the House. Though the Wyoming Legislature has been dominated by the Republican party, which has held super-majorities for 20 years, a growing bloc of lawmakers opposed to any new taxes and supportive of issues like gun rights and anti-abortion legislation wields increasing influence.
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