The Wyoming Senate has voted down a bill to create a multimillion dollar investment fund to foster small business growth.
House Bill 291 would have created a $20 million fund with contributions from insurance companies, which would have been reimbursed through tax credits. The Wyoming Business Council would have been tasked with selecting investment banking firms that could draw from the pool, and with vetting the small businesses eligible for assistance.
Only Wyoming-based companies with fewer than 100 employees would have been eligible for funding.
Opponents said taxes shouldn’t be used to subsidize private business.
“If you collect it, use it for what you’re supposed to — to operate government,” said Sen. Phil Nicholas, R-Laramie.
He said the money would be better spent by the Business Ready Community Program, which extends grants and loans to communities to help businesses expand or relocate.
Bill supporters said the program would have attracted new businesses to Wyoming, creating more and different jobs.
“We are leveraging money right now for the betterment of the diversification of our economy,” said Sen. Tony Ross, R-Cheyenne, speaking on behalf of the bill.
Some in the Senate said the state will need the tax revenue that would have been diverted to the program. But bill sponsor Rep. Bryan Pedersen, R-Cheyenne, said the program would have earned its investment back in taxes from new and expanded businesses. The government would have also taken a percentage of fund revenues.
The bill passed the House of Representatives but failed on its third vote in the Senate.
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