The Joint Appropriations Committee has passed a budget that features a 1.5 percent across the board cut for most agencies and spends 310 million out of the state’s 2 billion dollar rainy day fund.
House Appropriations Chairman Steve Harshman said declining energy prices convinced the committee to try and cut the budget as much as it could to meet existing revenues. The across the board cut is an effort to give state agencies the ability to determine their own priorities.
“And it gives agency directors kind of a glide path to start planning a slow draw down, instead of this cliff of 8 to 10 percent budget cuts.”
But the committee did cut several programs including adult literacy and some property tax rebate programs for the poor. Laramie Democrat Cathy Connolly said she believes that many important programs were removed.
“We cut 1.4 million dollars out of substance abuse treatment programs for inmates. They aren’t gonna get ahold of us, but I think it’s important for people to understand how important those programs are.”
Connolly said she is also disappointed that money allocated for K-12 teacher pay was cut by 16 million dollars. Harshman said he expects a lot of debate on that cut.
Connolly was most upset with the committee’s rejection of Medicaid Expansion. The budget will be debated by the full legislature in coming days.