November 17, 2020 |
Wyoming’s financial woes were front and center Monday. Governor Mark Gordon submitted his supplemental budget to the legislature. Gordon’s financial plan includes a half-billion dollars in cuts to state agencies.
Only law enforcement, public safety and the attorney general’s office are spared under the plan.
The governor said when the $500 million in cuts are averaged across the five big state agencies, they represent about a 15 percent overall reduction. For instance, the budget for the Department of Health was cut by $135 million. Both programs and government positions are included in the cuts.
With yesterday’s announcement, over 300 positions have been eliminated since July. Not all of the jobs are in Cheyenne. The impacts of the cuts will hit every corner of the state, the governor said losses also will be felt in the private sector and in everyday life.
Yesterday’s cut do not affect school funding. State law does not allow the governor to tinker with education funding. Big trouble is looming there, too. The legislature will have to address the $300 million shortfall that still exists in K-12 schools during the upcoming session. The governor said if lawmakers don’t address education funding, the cost of schools could eat through the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, the so-called Rainy Day Fund.
Other than lobbying for his budget plan, the governor’s work is done for now. The legislature takes over the budget process at this point. The State House Republican Leadership Conference has scheduled a news conference for this afternoon. Joint appropriations, Joint Revenue and Joint School Finance and Recalibration meetings are scheduled in December. The general session of the legislature is scheduled to convene on January 12th, 2021.
File photo of the Wyoming State Capitol Building.