By Molly Messick
Cheyenne, WY – Governor Matt Mead presented his supplemental budget proposal to the legislature's Appropriations Committee today. As he indicated in his State of the State address, Mead wants to spend less on state employee merit awards and pay increases than former Governor Freudenthal proposed. And Mead does not agree with Freudentahl's idea of putting an extra 60 million dollars into school construction. That's unless the legislature passes a preference law to give in-state contractors a better chance of winning construction projects. Committee co-chairman Senator Phil Nicholas cautioned that that might not be the best route.
"The legislature has a constitutional obligation to provide for schools. And it is inappropriate to say that we're not going to build schools - that we're going to ignore our constitutional obligation to build schools - simply because we're unhappy that Wyoming contractors are not getting a large enough piece of that construction pie."
In addition, Senator Michael Von Flatern cautioned that tying school construction funding to the passage of a particular piece of legislation could come across as a policy endorsement from the committee.