The Wyoming House Education Committee has come up with a brand new bill to address the school funding shortfall. The committee set aside House Bill 61 that they had been working on in favor of a new bill, House Bill 173 that now would reduce education funding by $31 million.
It also uses money from reserve accounts and, eventually, a sales tax to pay for education. Additionally, the bill makes several adjustments in the school funding model, like reducing pay for administrators while providing a ten percent increase for teachers. It also slightly increases class size.
Brian Farmer of the Wyoming School Boards Association praised the mix of revenue with cuts. He said districts will appreciate the effort.
"I think some are willing to take some level of cut, but [they] want to really minimize that level of cut," said Farmer. "I think that's the work this committee has done, to go from that $10-million to $61 [million] to $31 [million], and that's something that's more manageable for districts."
Laramie Rep. Cathy Connolly tried to remove the increase in class size from the bill due to the fact that class size has always been a priority of the legislature.
The amendment would have essentially removed all education cuts from the bill and was defeated. The committee plans to finally vote on the bill this Friday.