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Lawmakers Hung Up On Construction Bill

Wyoming Legislature Senator Eli Bebout
Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature still has work to do. Despite working for 20 days the House and Senate will reconvene later this week to hopefully reach a compromise on one bill that funds building projects and another that trims school funding. 

During a final vote on the state budget Saturday, Senate President Eli Bebout admitted he was disappointed with the spending at a time when Wyoming’s revenues are down. The legislature is spending millions out of its reserve account and Bebout said that can’t continue.

“I would have liked to have seen more reductions, more responsible reductions, there’s a lot of things we should have done. I do not believe now and continue to believe that now is not the time for new taxes. We tried one to broaden our tax base and that failed. And certainly, when we refer to kicking the can, that’s unfortunately what we’ve done members of the Senate.” 

Senate Minority Leader Chris Rothfuss countered that more cuts were unrealistic. 

“The idea that we could have miraculously found $900-million in additional cuts is unfortunately absurd. It’s impossible for us to do that while still providing services to the state that will keep the state operating.”

Rothfuss said he’s a big supporter of broadening Wyoming’s tax base in an effort to make up for the revenue shortfall. 

After the budget passed, Senate President Eli Bebout appointed himself to the conference committee on the capital construction bill and told House Appropriations Chairman Bob Nicholas on Saturday that he opposed a number of House building projects in the legislation. The two sides failed to reach an agreement on the legislation and will try again later this week. 

The House will reconvene Wednesday night and the Senate will gavel in on Thursday afternoon. 

Bob Beck retired from Wyoming Public Media after serving as News Director of Wyoming Public Radio for 34 years. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.

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