I know the country, especially back east and in the mid-west, has been experiencing economic down time lately. I also know Wyoming usually stays ahead of that curve and we donít feel the brunt of economics like the rest of the states.
This time around, that isnít the case. We have seen the Payment in Lieu of Taxes Program defunded, the Abandoned Mine Lands Act defunded and terrible drops in the collection of severance taxes across the state.
On the local front, the funding of programs on a federal level has caused funds normally coming into the county and city to drop dramatically.
There have been layoffs at the county level.
Funding for local city and county programs have also seen drops in funding and are scrambling to find outside sources to keep the programs going.
It was bound to come to this sooner or later.
When the times were good and we were rolling along with all our projects and local interests, things were changing rapidly in the nationís capital. We got used to having a steady flow of income for the county and the city and we funded projects that, perhaps, we shouldnít have and we started some localized programs without thinking far enough ahead to where the money might come from in the future.
The money only goes so far and then, when things get tough, everything but essential services is on the chopping block. Thatís true on the local level and itís also true on the state and federal levels.
Our country funded so many worthwhile programs that when the axe began to fall, many of those programs were simply defunded while many others were cut substantially.
Medicare and Medicaid took a four-percent cut across the board earlier this year, just to cite one example.
There have been cuts to such mainstay programs as WYDOT and the Department of Family Services, and I suspect there are other cuts weíll see as things progress in the direction weíre presently moving.
The idea is actually quite simple: During prosperous times, money should be stashed away in accounts that help those funds grow to carry us through the tough times.
If youíre going to start a community project, however noble and right it may be, you have to look farther down the road and do some planning for funding or self-sustainability in the future.
I have no idea when the economic downturn may level off or reverse as I am not some financial advisor or stockbroker, or even an economist.
But I do know if we spend every dime we get, when things turn back around and we havenít learned to save for that rainy day, weíll get caught off guard Ė just like we have this time.
Economies, no matter how robust and prosperous, eventually have downturns and those who have saved the extra theyíve gotten are a whole lot better off than the ones who havenít.