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Committee Votes To Cut Education Funding Less Than Expected

Bob Beck

A Wyoming legislative committee continues to work on a bill that would reduce spending on K-12 education.

The House education committee continues to reduce the proposed cut of $100 million. After several amendments, the proposed cut is down to roughly $22 million. The majority of the committee also committed to trying to find tax revenue to make up the $300 million shortfall in education revenue. Casper Rep. Jerry Obermueller tried to amend the bill in favor of no cuts.

He noted that during a recent hearing, nobody testified in favor of education cuts and he said the focus should be on finding revenue to pay for education. He also noted that the legislature is still putting money into reserve accounts.

"It's always said that it would be unethical, as long as we're saving money to raise taxes, that's been the argument," said Obermueller. "And I'm adding to that argument and saying it's also unethical to cut education funding in the same environment. So just holding ground."

But Hulett Rep. Chip Neiman countered by saying that other state agencies have had to make reductions, so K-12 education should share in those reductions.

"I think it would be responsible to look at what we spend and see what we can do that is more efficient and meet the financial position we are in as a state right now," said Neiman.

The House education committee plans to continue working on the bill. The committee did reject a bill that would set up a fund to battle a school funding lawsuit and limit how much school districts could spend on such a lawsuit.

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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