Last week Wyoming governor Matt Mead released his proposed budget for the next two years. The governor joins us to discuss something he did not recommend and discusses other topics, such as whether he will run for re-election.
In the governor’s budget last week, one area that didn’t get a lot of attention is a proposal to increase funding to communities and counties by $175 million. That would be a $40 million increase over his previous proposal. 40 percent of that money would go for infrastructure, such as roads, but the rest would go into operations. If approved, it would come at a time when most local governments are dealing with less revenue. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports.
The main revenue forecasting arm for the state of Wyoming called 2013 a solid year economically. Thanks to investments it means the state raised almost 350 million dollars over projections. But the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group or CREG says while this is great news, problems may be on the horizon. The legislative committee tasked with developing the state’s budget wants to be cautious. Wyoming Public Radio’s Bob Beck reports…
After a lengthy discussion, the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee voted to support a two-percent external cost adjustment for public schools.
The external cost adjustment would address inflation issues within the school funding model, and is used by most districts to pay for salary increases. Lawmakers have been reluctant to support an ECA over the last several years due to budget concerns, and the appropriations committee was told that spending for education in Wyoming remains among the top 10 in the country.
The University of Wyoming has not given a pay raise to its faculty and staff in four years now and the board of trustees is concerned that scrimping on salaries has begun to adversely affect the education the university offers. David Bostrom, the president of the UW Board of Trustees, says that employee salaries don’t just need to compete state-wide but must also compete nationally and internationally within their fields.
The Riverton Circuit Court is stationed in a small, pre-fab building with thin walls. After a bullet was shot from outside the building into the courtroom last summer, Fremont County stationed industrial shipping containers around the building to protect it. The Fremont County Board of Commissioners has requested funding from the State Loan and Investments Board to build a new circuit court facility.
Cheyenne Regional Airport could lose its air tower as a result of the federal sequester. The Federal Aviation Administration is losing funding for 100 towers nationwide, each of which serve airports with a limited number of flights.
David Haring is director of aviation at the airport. He says the airport will continue to operate… but losing the air tower is a big deal, because it’s an important safety tool.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead has line item vetoed three areas of the state supplemental budget. The governor vetoed a section that involved the management of surplus state money and he vetoed a section that required state agencies to consider more budget cuts. Mead says it doesn’t make sense for agencies to re-do that exercise, especially since it’s possible that the state may get more revenue.
The Wyoming House and Senate have reached a budget agreement on a $78 million supplemental budget and will send it to the Governor for his consideration. While there was no discussion in the Senate, several representatives in the House were concerned that instead of cutting government…the legislature is spending more. But House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman says most of the money is one-time spending.
State lawmakers have started reviewing the proposed supplemental state budget. The budget features an average of six and a half percent cuts and limits new spending.
House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman says the legislature will have some money that can be added to the budget if needed.
“So after accounting for other bills with appropriations in them, today there is 13 million dollars on the table for saving or spending. And the smallest supplemental budget in a decade…in ten years…in terms of expenditures.”
The legislative panel responsible for drafting a supplemental Wyoming state budget bill recommends that lawmakers reject Gov. Matt Mead's proposal to cut the flow of energy revenues going into permanent savings and school construction.
Mead wants Wyoming to build up its so-called rainy day fund in case the state needs ready cash to deal with projected flat energy revenues in the years to come.
As the legislature considers cutting budgets next month, some members are taking issue with comments that the state has doubled its budget over the last ten years. Incoming House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman says the state spent money on things ranging from the Hathaway Scholarship to improving neglected infrastructure across the state. Harshman says some of that spending also went into funds that should help the state in future years.
Last week, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead released his proposed budget and he will present that budget to the legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee on Monday. The budget features some cuts and a couple of policy decisions. The Governor joins us now.
This week Governor Matt Mead is submitting his proposed budget to Wyoming legislators. The budget will include some spending priorities, but will also feature a wide range of budget cuts, some as high as eight percent. K-12 education has been viewed by lawmakers as untouchable due to the fact that the state lost an expensive lawsuit over school funding. But Mead believes some adjustments can be made in the amount of spending that goes into new schools.
Wyoming leaders are shell-shocked after learning that Congress has arranged to take hundreds of millions of dollars money from the Abandoned Mine Lands program to fund a federal transportation bill.
Wyoming coal producers have paid $2.9 billion into the program, and the state was guaranteed $1.9 billion back for reclamation efforts. The cut would reduce Wyoming’s share by about 700 million dollars over the next decade. That money is used for a variety of projects.
Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says he wants state agencies to look at program reductions but not job cuts when they come up with plans to reduce the state budget.
Because of declining natural gas prices, the governor is asking all state agencies to be prepared to reduce their budgetseight percent by July first of 2013. Mead said during a news conference that many of the reductions can be done without layoffs.
During his state of the state message Governor Matt Mead said that Wyoming is doing well. He said Wyoming does not have the severe budget constraints that other statesface, but that a downturn in projected revenue means that the state has to curb its spending.
“I have not recommended deep across the board cuts to agencies,” Mead said. “Instead I used a targeted approach identifying those areas where we could slow or even reduce growth. Some cuts have been made, but we should distinguish between cuts and reducing growth. There is a real difference.”
University of Wyoming President Tom Buchanan says employee salary increases might not be possible if the state legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee requires steep cuts in the university’s next biennial block grant. U-W requested an additional $9.7 million dollars be allocated to give U-W employees a pay increase in its next budget. However, the J-A-C has asked state departments to make plans for two, five and eight percent budget cuts to cope with diminished state revenue from natural gas prices.
Governor Matt Mead says falling natural gas prices make this a good time to reevaluate his proposed budget. In December, the governor submitted his budget, which asked agencies to present a two-percent cut to their budgets. That budget was based on natural gas prices which were nearly $3.50 per MCF at the time.
Governor Matt Mead presented his budget to the Joint Appropriations Committee and re-asserted his position that the state does not need to hurry to cut budgets.
Senate JAC Chairman Phil Nicholas has suggested cuts of five to eight percent are needed, so that the state can start setting aside money for future needs. Governor Mead says they should decide what government services are critical and determine what money the state would need to fund those services.
The administrator of Wyoming’s Economic Analysis Division says the state’s long range economic forecast is that revenues for energy development should be stable. Some lawmakers contend that recent revenue reports suggest that Wyoming will have less money in the future, and they want state agencies to trim budgets between five and eight percent.
But Buck McVeigh who co-chaired the state economic forecast says it is far from dire. But he added during an interview on Tuesday that the very high prices Wyoming has received for its natural gas will likely level off.