The State Senate has voted to reduce a spending increase that's used for teacher pay. The External Cost Adjustment is part of the school-funding model and the governor supported an $18 million increase to keep the model constitutional. Tuesday night, the Senate cut that increase in half. Senators Chris Rothfuss and Jeff Wasserburger says the cut to an increase that's used for teacher pay could put the school funding model in jeopardy of being unconstitutional.
The other issue is how it will impact school districts' ability to attract and retain teachers. Evanston Senator Wendy Davis Schuler said western Wyoming is seeing an impact.
"They just used to flock from Idaho and Utah to come to Wyoming because we paid teachers pretty well. Just in the last five, six, seven years, Utah and Idaho have started to catch up with us and we are not getting those quality teachers from surrounding states because of our lack of funding all of a sudden," said Schuler.
But a number of Senators said despite budget cuts in recent years, education is very well funded. Casper Senator Charles Scott said the extra money and unnecessary increases lawmakers added to the funding model during boom times have caused problems.
"The way we've funded education, we've developed some excesses because of the amount of increase we've had. That excess has started to hurt the kids and reining that in…I think is where we need to go," Scott said.
The debate was part of the discussion regarding the Senate's version of the state budget bill.