Sullivan explained that the trust was created in the wake of Wyoming's first mineral severance tax. That tax was begun in 1969 by Gov. Stanley Hathaway.
Hathaway, a Republican, a year earlier defeated a Democratic opponent after the Democrat proposed that Wyoming adopt a mineral severance tax, Sullivan said. Once Hathaway took office, he saw the state government's terrible financial condition and supported the tax, Sullivan said.
Sullivan said mineral trust funds, from which the principal is never spent, can help mineral-producing states deal with the so-called "resource curse" that keeps their economies from becoming more diverse.
"We're much too dependent on mineral resources," Sullivan said of Wyoming, the nation's top coal producer and among the top oil and gas producers. "I think we're spoiled."
In Wyoming, the mineral trust money is spent as part of the state's general government budget. Other states with similar programs use them for a variety of purposes, including general state spending and long-term economic, education and infrastructure improvements.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin has said he would not support the Center on Budget and Policy's proposal in West Virginia.
Senate President Jeff Kessler, D-Marshall, has his own proposal to funnel a portion of taxes on Marcellus Shale drilling to a "future fund," but has also said he would not support the center's proposal.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.