The Wyoming Senate gave final approval to an education funding bill that would cut close to $80 million out of school funding over three years.
The Senate version of the bill only cuts and does not add revenue into the school funding model like the House proposed. That will likely be a point of contention when the House and Senate try to iron out differences between the two bills. The Senate considered adding a half cent tax to the bill this week, but the proposal was soundly rejected.
The Senate added an amendment intended to protect teacher salaries, but Gillette Sen. Jeff Wasserburger said he worries that it will backfire and lead to the elimination of activities and other programs. He predicted that staff salaries will definitely be cut.
Senate Ed Chairman Charles Scott said the bill gets education spending under control. He also noted that federal COVID-19 funds targeted for education will give districts time to address the reductions.
But Powell Sen. R.J. Kost said the Senate added a number of amendments with little idea of what they could do to education.
"We have a lot of negative attitudes towards education right now and those need to be changed. I'm very supportive of cuts and I'm not saying that we don't need to make cuts to make this efficient and on track. At the same time it's extremely important for us to look at the other side and ask how do we balance it out? How far is too far and how much cutting is too much," said Kost.
The House and Senate will have to reach a deal on the legislation before the legislature adjourns next Wednesday.