CHEYENNE, Wyo. (KIFI/KIDK)-Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced his proposed supplemental budget Monday. It would cut state funding by more than $500 million in order to balance the budget. State agencies will see total cuts averaging 15%.
“Our circumstances require that we make further reductions in order to meet our Constitutional obligation to balance Wyoming’s budget. These cuts to state agencies will result in the elimination of both private and public sector jobs,” Governor Gordon said. “In approaching this supplemental budget, I have focused first on what is constitutionally mandated, thereby protecting the health, wellbeing and liberties of all Wyoming citizens."
Gordon said he's also proposing a simplified budget structure he believes will make the process more transparent.
After July’s budget cuts, the Governor took a more strategic approach to this next round of reductions, reaching a balanced budget with some agencies absorbing deeper cuts than others. “It is a fact that we cannot reduce our spending without looking at our largest agencies,” the Governor continued. “The Department of Health, the University of Wyoming, the Community Colleges, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Family Services make up two-thirds of the state’s general fund budget.”
There are some harsh realities, according to the Governor. The budget proposes cuts of $135 million to the Wyoming Department of Health, affecting health care coverage for disabled and low-income residents, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and developmental preschools.
If approved by the Legislature, his budget will cut higher education by 15% and many other state agencies, including the Governor's Office by nearly 20%.
Even after the cuts, Gordon said there remains a nearly $300 million deficit, resulting from the cost of K-12 public education. He proposes to cover it with money from the state's "Rainy Day Fund." Left unresolved, Gordon said that deficit could grow to $600 million within 2 years.
“A well-funded educational system is a source of pride and economic opportunity for our state. It is essential for our families and our children just as low taxes are,” Governor Gordon wrote in his budget message. “Our circumstances require that we evaluate all school spending and consider its importance to our state’s future. These are dollars that go into local economies too. I appreciate the Legislature’s Recalibration Committee’s hard work on this topic and look forward to their proposals.”
You can read the governor's full budget message here.