The Wyoming legislature has started work on a budget that proposes $450 million in cuts. The reductions are due to declining revenues from the energy industry and impacts from COVID-19.
A number of people have questioned the huge cuts to the Department of Health. Senate Appropriations Chairman Drew Perkins said they had no choice.
"The cuts we are making don't help anyone and in fact they hurt many. But what are you supposed to do if you don't have the money? And where do you cut? Well, when we look at a $2.3 billion budget and close to $2 billion of it is in the Department of Health, guess where you have to cut?" Perkins said.
Perkins also noted that there is little interest from the majority of Republicans to raise taxes, so they will have to make do with cuts and reserves for the time being.
In the House, Appropriations Chair Bob Nicholas told lawmakers the budget is very close to what Gov. Mark Gordon proposed.
"We adopted the governor's [recommendations]. He did a good job of what he did. He did it in a responsible fashion, and he presented to us a balanced budget," Nicholas said.
Nicholas did express concern about cuts to the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH). Nicholas said they are proposing adding some money back into the department.
"But what happened was because of the haste of just telling every agency and every division to cut, step two and step three, what they didn't do is kind of a fine tooth analysis of what those impacts were."
The Senate and House plan to debate the budget throughout the week.