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Wyoming Governor orders steeper cuts

Gov Gordon
Governor Mark Gordon addresses a Cheyenne news conference Thursday.

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK)-Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon is instructing state agencies to take immediate action to further reduce spending and prepare for deeper cuts in the coming months.

Gordon’s reduction plan requires agencies to expect a worsening revenue situation.  The state has already imposed a hiring freeze and limited large contracts.

“We are in uncharted territory,” Governor Gordon said. “We have just experienced the largest loss of income in our history just four years after our second largest loss of income. But, even if every state employee was let go, or if we closed the prisons, eliminated all money going to the courts, and stopped funding persons with disabilities, we would still run out of funds at the end of the biennium.

The governor outlined a phased plan of spending reductions to be coordinated with the legislative branch. Now, he’s asking state agency directors to identify and explain programs they can eliminate by July 1.  He also wants to know the consequences of those cuts. The proposals are likely to result in some state employees losing their jobs. Gordon asked agencies to consider salary reductions, furloughs, reductions in benefits, and other options.

Gordon said there is no doubt the state will continue to see steep revenue losses.

“Wyoming depends on energy production to fund its government and has for decades,” the Governor said. “But our coal revenues are down 25 percent and will continue to decline.  Projected oil revenues have dropped more than 50 percent in three months. Gas is selling for 1970-level prices and there is no new production. Compounding this, sales tax revenues (also largely driven by mineral development) are in steep decline.”

He wants to be sure any significant cuts are made strategically and in a manner that assures the state can recover quickly. Gordon said merely cutting services would not be enough to address the scope of the shortfall.

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