During floor debate on the state budget on Saturday, Senator Dave Kinskey [R-Sheridan/Johnson counties] questioned whether supporters of increased state spending aren't hoping for a state income tax to be implemented at some point.

While criticizing what he sees as the excessive ''burn rate'' of the state's financial reserves to pay for state government, Kinskey added  ''I'm afraid that those forces that want to see us spend and not cut may actually want an income tax."

The topic is not a new one.

In June of 1999, the Wyoming Tax Reform 2000 Committee, which was set up to study the state's tax structure and possible changes, recommended Wyoming consider a state income tax.

That recommendation prompted then-Governor Jim Geringer [R] to issue what may be the only two-word statement ever issued from that office.

"Hell, no" was Gov. Geringer's response to the recommendation.

The committee had said implementing a state income tax would raise roughly $153 million annually for the state, and claimed the state sales tax is regressive, or that it targets poorer people more than richer state residents.

The committee had said an income tax would be a fairer way to raise state revenues. Wyoming currently generates about 70 percent of its tax revenues from taxes on the mining industry, including coal, oil and natural gas.

When those industries aren't doing well, state revenues lag. Wyoming is currently one of seven U.S. states without a state income tax, and the idea is generally thought to be unpopular with state residents.

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