State Office Candidate Questionnaires
We released a questionnaire to all candidates. We added the bold font to their responses emphasize the most important aspects of their views. Otherwise, their responses are unedited.
House District 22 candidate Andrew Byron; House District 23 candidate Paul Vogelheim; and Senate District 17 candidates Steve Duerr and Mike Gierau did not submit responses to our questionnaire.
Wyoming faces major funding deficits due to dependency on falling energy and mineral revenues. At the same time, local communities including ours need additional funding to build and protect homes that local working families and retirees can afford. How do you propose addressing state revenue for housing, specifically including a new real estate tax, property taxes, and sales taxes?
Jim McCollum (HD 16 candidate): First and foremost, Wyoming needs to fight the current administration on the 2000 plus oil and gas permits that are being unjustly withheld. The energy industry is the backbone of our State economy. The loss of revenue trickles down into every community and municipality. Property taxes have got to be addressed. Changes can’t be made locally, that needs to be done in Cheyenne. I am already working with legislators across the state to create workable legislation on property tax relief and how those values are determined/set. Teton County currently has an estimated tax revenue that exceeds any previous years. There is a large disconnect in expenditures and a desire to keep putting the hand out and digging into pockets. Greed and gluttony are things that need addressed statewide.
Mike Yin (HD 16 candidate): I will continue to pursue the Real Estate Transfer Tax as a funding source for affordable housing projects. I am also continuing to work on options for tax relief that prioritize those that live and work in Wyoming. Ideally including options that could be passed on to renters as well. Such options including taxing primary homes differently than vacation homes.
Ryan Sedgeley (HD 23 candidate): I would support legislation that creates a progressive tax on 2nd+ homes, vacation homes, and rental properties. I would support a real estate transfer tax. I would support a progressive property tax to ensure low income earners and elderly people on fixed incomes can remain in our communities and live with dignity. I would also support a progressive income tax. Other taxes I would support are luxury taxes, estate taxes, windfall taxes, capital gains taxes, and luxury/heavy/recreational (non-ag or industry) vehicle taxes.
Liz Storer (HD 23 candidate): Currently, Wyoming’s tax system is 1) narrowly-based on fossil fuel extraction which is diminishing, 2) unsustainable, because it does not raise the revenues required to cover the services demanded of most Wyoming residents, and 3) inequitable, because it asks low- and middle-income families to pay a much higher percentage of their incomes in taxes than wealthy families (mostly through sales tax). Wyoming needs to modernize its tax policy to create a broadly-based, sustainable and equitable tax policy for the 21st century. There are several ways Wyoming can revamp its tax policy especially because it has a low tax environment currently: • Wyoming has no income tax or corporate income tax. • Wyoming has no estate or inheritance tax. • Wyoming does not tax out-of-state retirement income. • Wyoming has no real estate tax. • Wyoming has no tax on mineral ownership. • Wyoming has no state gift tax. • Wyoming has a low property tax (even if high values in Teton County make them high). • Wyoming has a low sales tax (4% + Municipalities can add up to 3% to that) and exempts most services from sales tax at all. • Motor fuel taxes are $0.24 per gallon. (16th lowest state and below the country’s average) • At a mere 2¢ per gallon, Wyoming boasts the lowest excise tax for beer among the states, with the next lowest in Missouri, three times more at 6¢. So raising revenues can certainly be done by considering any of these sources; certainly, a real estate tax (with a threshold) to create housing subsidies makes sense in a place like Teton County and I would support that as a county-option statute. Sales tax can also be raised in the county under currently legislation and as tourists pay a large share of that tax, we could also consider a 7th penny dedicated to housing subsidies, in whole or in part (although that would be up to the county officials). The state could also raise significant new revenues by managing its permanent funds to increase their returns… (reached word limit)
What bills do you see helping our ability to provide homes for local workers/retirees/families in the 2023 legislative session? What will you do about them?
Jim McCollum (HD 16 candidate): Clarification on short term rental laws is important. Fractional ownership is becoming a problem. Lodging overlays need to be adhered to. Incentives for homeowners to rent their vacant properties long term is something I strongly want to work on. Less regulation and refusal of private parties wanting to build workforce housing is imperative.
Mike Yin (HD 16 candidate): I will be bringing the Real Estate Transfer Tax bill again in committee similar to last year.
Ryan Sedgeley (HD 23 candidate): I think Mike Yin’s real estate transfer tax bill would be a helpful bill. It would be one step in many that are needed. One solution could be a progressive tax on rental properties. So for each additional property that someone owns and rents, they pay a progressively higher amount of tax until that tax reaches 100%. On the local level I think building a denser Jackson is important with many mandatory deed restricted units built in. Of course, efforts to end money hiding and laundering via trusts in Wyoming would help too.
Liz Storer (HD 23 candidate): Ensuring that there are state funds available for the state program that helps pay for property taxes for low and fixed income families will be important. Working with legislators from other communities that are also facing housing shortages for working families and retirees will be a priority in order to gain support to move a bill forward. A county local-option real estate tax would certainly make sense if we can garner enough support. I would be open to other ideas Shelter JH may have that we could work on at the legislative level.
What bills do you see harming our ability to provide homes for local workers/retirees/families in the 2023 legislative session? What will you do about them??
Jim McCollum (HD 16 candidate): At this time, I don’t know of any specific bills that are singularly going to cripple our ability to provide the above mentioned homes. Lack of affordability on homes labeled “affordable” is a huge issue. The states inability, through the state government, to address the issues is disappointing. The can continually gets kicked back to local communities and local communities have the same discussions year after year without real or tangible solutions. If elected, I want to address housing, taxes, and viability of keeping the hardworking Wyoming residents in Wyoming. Liveable wages and liveable housing solutions. Strengthening our neighborhoods and communities.
Mike Yin (HD 16 candidate): There may be unknown bills that come out of the woodwork at the last minute based on someone being unhappy with a local decision. As always, I work with both stakeholders and other legislators to either defeat or minimize their harm to our community.
Ryan Sedgeley (HD 23 candidate):I think any bills that would incentivize corporations and individuals to buy up and speculate on residential property or to hold residential property empty would harm the ability to provide homes for people who need them. In addition any bills, that encourage rental properties including short-term rentals, or vacation homes that largely sit empty will be harmful to getting people in homes. Finally bills that kneecap the state, counties, and municipalities from being able to help people get housing will harm the ability to get people into homes. The legislature seems to be good at finding convenient and contradictory reasons for limiting local control when it doesn’t help their personal or ideological preferences.
Liz Storer (HD 23 candidate): Ensuring that the legislature does not further limit the ability of the Town of Jackson or Teton County to require affordable housing units as part of any new development is also important if not sufficient. I would oppose other legislation that would further limit the ability of our local electeds to require extractions or subsidies from developers, or otherwise impose restrictions on developers, recognizing that such development makes it more difficult for workers to find housing and creates greater demand for a workforce who cannot afford to live here. Again, I would be open to other ideas Shelter JH may have that we could work on at the legislative level.