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Wyoming governor requests funding for suicide call center

Governor Mark Gordon
Governor Mark Gordon

CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) - Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon has recommended providing $400,000 to fund an in-state call center for the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline.

Gordon changed course on the issue after initially rejecting the request.

Wyoming is the only state that lacks a local call center for the national suicide hotline, the Wyoming Tribune Eagle reports.

Wyoming residents can reach the hotline without a call center, but the state lacks its own operators leading to longer wait times for callers and conversations with people who are unfamiliar with resources and providers in Wyoming, officials said.

The state Department of Health initially requested about $1 million, and Gordon denied the request in his budget proposal released in November, Joint Appropriations Committee officials said.

Committee members then received a letter this week from Gordon recommending $400,000 in ongoing general funds for the call center.

"I have it on good authority this refined figure more accurately represents the actual costs of a program designed and operated here in Wyoming," Gordon said.

State lawmakers are scheduled to decide whether to approve the funding during the upcoming budget session set to begin Feb. 10.

If the Legislature approves the funding, the Department of Health is expected to issue a request for proposals to find an in-state vendor to operate the facility, governor's spokesman Michael Pearlman said.

Multiple providers expressed interest in December in operating the call center, Department of Health Deputy Director Stefan Johannson said.

In other funding requests, Gordon is seeking more than $20 million for employee compensation, a $25 million energy commercialization program to explore carbon-capture, a $1 million coal marketing program and about $12 million to fund renovations for the College of Law at the University of Wyoming.

Article Topic Follows: Wyoming

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