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Lawmakers Wary As They Approve The State Budget

Bob Beck
Wyoming Public Radio

Declining oil prices, a lack of substantial budget cuts, and concerns spending reserves dominated discussion as the Wyoming House and Senate gave final approval to its two-year budget.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Eli Bebout said the fall in oil prices coupled with the drop in other mineral revenues is alarming and could cause the state serious problems in four to six years.

The Senate Debate centered on the perception by many that the growth in K-12 education spending is a huge future issue. Baggs Senator Larry Hicks said if they don't get a handle on education spending they will be faced with addressing a shortfall of about $600 million in education spending in just a few years.

"It's a cliff folks, we're gonna fall off the cliff," Hicks said.

Casper Senator Bill Landen said there are few other cuts left.

"Some of these agencies, I would submit to you, that we've drawn them back pretty dramatically. I don't know how much flexibility we have there but if we get in a really bad situation by this fall or next year at this time, how much more pressure can the agency side of the budget take," said Landen.

Laramie Senator Chris Rothfuss said cuts have been tried and failed. He added that the state needs true diversification of its revenue structure along with a diversified economy. He said "anything else is prolonging the demise."

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Bob Beck, at btwo@uwyo.edu.

Bob Beck has been News Director of Wyoming Public Radio since 1988. During his time as News Director WPR has won over 100 national, regional and state news awards.
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