During his State of the State address Wednesday, Governor Matt Mead asked the Wyoming legislature to broaden the public discussion for the education budget.
Public school funding is estimated to fall around $400 million dollars short. Governor Mead said the legislature needs to act quickly to try to solve the shortfall, while also slowing down so that the public can better participate in decision making.
Wyoming Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow said Wyomingites have already offered a number of possible solutions when citizens were asked to comment a few weeks ago.
“There were over 600 comments, during the week of Christmas,” Balow said. “So, that gives us all a sense of the appetite for public input that’s out there.”
Balow also agreed with Mead that the legislature will need to consider the education budget separate from the state’s general budget.
“It’s vital that we keep the two pots separate because they are in fact two different pots,” said Balow. “We talk about our state funding. We talk about our educational funding. Revenue streams for both of those different pots are very different and we need to address them separately.”
Balow said a careful look at the funding model along with increased opportunities for public input could prevent hasty decisions by lawmakers.