Wyoming legislators were generally in agreement with Governor Matt Mead’s priorities following his annual State of the State message.
Mead said lawmakers need to resolve an education funding shortfall and figure out how to best use the state’s rainy day fund. Sheridan Senator Dave Kinskey said he agrees with that, but while the governor doesn’t want to see more budget cuts, Kinskey said he wants to try and reduce spending before they have to consider using savings or raising taxes.
“I think you have to be careful about tapping your reserves, I think you have to be careful about issuing bonds, but personally I don’t want to see taxes go up, I don’t want to see debt go up and I want to force ourselves as a body to make all the tough decisions about service levels and cuts.”
Green River Senator John Hastert disagreed. He said they can find ways to address the issue without reductions.
“You know we can use some savings and what I call money management and use some of the diversions. I don’t think it’s a time when we need to cut.”
On another topic, few lawmakers were excited about the governor’s idea to use bonding to fix the problems at the maximum security prison in Rawlins. Senator Chris Rothfuss said he thinks it’s a smart idea, Senator Michael Von Flatern does not.
“It would depend on the payment terms, the interest rate, but if we are paying interest on something we are paying cash for? I’d rather pay the cash.”
Lawmakers say they do plan to support the governor’s push to diversify the state economy.