CASPER — A new poll released Thursday by the National Federation of Independent Business shows a majority of its Wyoming membership opposes most tax increases being weighed by the Wyoming Legislature this coming year and were widely in favor of controversial liability protections shot down by lawmakers earlier this year.
The annual poll — conducted every winter by the federation’s Wyoming chapter — found that more than 81% of its membership opposes imposing sales taxes on services, one of the handful of revenue options backed by Gov. Mark Gordon as he seeks to make up for a massive budget shortfall in 2021.
The poll also shows roughly 58% of its membership opposes a proposed 9-cent fuel tax increase — which has not been raised in six years — or a road usage charge, a paradigm shift proposed by the Wyoming Department of Transportation as a means to off set declining fuel tax revenues amid a rise in more fuel efficient vehicles on state highways.
“Our members are firmly decided on three of the poll questions,” Tony Gagliardi, Wyoming state director for National Federation of Independent Business, said in a statement accompanying the poll results. “I think what the response to the fuel tax question shows is a willingness to consider a well-thought-out plan for funding highway maintenance and construction, and not simply issuing a blank check for the job.”
Thursday’s poll also showed a high aversion to preemptively offering workers’ compensation to employees who contract COVID-19 (75% against) and a high favorability for protecting businesses from “frivolous and unmerited COVID-related lawsuits,” with just under 95% in favor of those protections.
A toned-down version of those protections were adopted by lawmakers in last spring’s special session and has been a sticking point in stimulus discussions between Republicans and Democrats in Washington, with Democrats opposed.
It is unclear when the Legislature will meet in 2021. Though the body is not prohibited from voting to call itself into session next month, staffing issues stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic have made the logistics of hosting a winter session nearly impossible, likely postponing the session until late spring.