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.