U.S. Senator Mike Enzi, R-Wyo., hosted Wyoming Senator Eli Bebout, R-Riverton, at a U.S. Senate Budget Committee hearing today to explore the advantages of Wyoming's biennial budgeting.
The hearing included a bipartisan panel focused on fixing America's broken budget process by examining how state budget processes work.
"I really support a biennial budget. It's important and I think the process is working," said Bebout, who is chairman of the Wyoming Senate's Appropriations Committee. "The thing that really drives our budget is not what we want to spend, but the revenues that are available to us. I think there's a lot of work to be done to the federal budget process. Biennial budgets really work, and I'd love to see you all budget a little bit more like Wyoming and other states do."
Enzi said he believes a biennial budget, or a two-year funding cycle, would give Congress more time to attend to executive branch oversight and policy development, and reduce the potential for government shutdowns. He said it would also create much needed predictability for federal agencies and the Americans who rely on the services they provide.
"The way Wyoming budgets and spends could provide important lessons for Congress on fiscal responsibility," Enzi said. "Forty percent of states appropriate on a biennial cycle, which is a concept I believe should be applied at the federal level. Carrying over even a small deficit from year-to-year is rare at the state level. What is even more impressive is that they finish spending bills on time, something Congress hasn't done in more than 20 years."
Bebout noted that despite Wyoming having a volatile year-over-year revenue collections in the nation, the state has a strong tradition and history of not spending beyond its means. It also boasts the largest rainy day fund balance as a percentage of general fund expenditures according to both Forbes and The Pew Charitable Trusts.
This hearing was the second in a series of hearings designed to showcase the U.S. Senate Budget Committee's focus on reforming America's broken budget and appropriations process.