Governor Matt Mead is evaluating a letter sent by Director Gregory J. Gould of the Department of Interior, Office of Natural Resources Revenue, to the State Treasurer's Office. The correspondence is dated Friday, March 22 and was received on the afternoon of Monday, March 25 by the State Treasurer's Office.
In his letter, Director Gould indicates that, beginning in March 2013 and continuing through July 2013, over $53 million dollars of mineral revenue payments payable to the State of Wyoming will be withheld under sequestration. The monthly amount withheld will be $10,616,442.00 with the possibility of more withholding in August and September. Under federal law, Wyoming is guaranteed 50% of the revenues from mineral leasing on federal lands in this state.
Governor Mead has sought advice from the Attorney General's Office on recourse available to the State of Wyoming for this impending federal action. All options are being considered. "When the State reduced its budget by over 6% it did not achieve its reductions by withholding mineral revenue due under state leases. That would be taking someone else's property. Similarly, the Department of Interior should not be able to meet its budget reduction by taking mineral revenues which belong to the states under the law," Governor Mead said.
Governor Mead is also concerned about the timing of the March letter which addresses federal action set to begin immediately. He said, "This is no way to achieve adequate notice or give our State an opportunity to respond before the action is underway. As far as communications go, this method of passing along significant information that greatly impacts Wyoming gets a grade of F minus or worse. It is not acceptable."
State Treasurer Mark Gordon said, "The opportunity to take a lot more of what the states are properly owed proved to be too tempting to the federal government. We are using every means necessary to make sure our state is made whole."
Governor Mead is consulting the Congressional delegation and neighboring states that are similarly affected, as well as Attorney General Greg Phillips.