Wyoming's Next Round Of Budget Cuts Deeper Into Agencies

Nov 17, 2020

Credit Wyoming PBS

Gov. Mark Gordon is proposing more than half a billion dollars in cuts to state agencies in his supplemental budget.

At a press conference on Monday, Gordon said that after July's round of 10 percent cuts, it was time to look at which departments could absorb more.

"It is a fact that we cannot reduce our spending without looking at our largest agencies," he said in a press release. "The Department of Health, the University of Wyoming, the Community Colleges, the Department of Corrections and the Department of Family Services make up two-thirds of the state's general fund budget."

Under the proposal, the Wyoming Department of Health (WDH) would see a $135 million cut and UW could face a 15 percent cut.

Gordon said the cuts would target programs that provide health care to disabled and low-income residents, mental health, substance use and developmental preschools.

Gordon said there will still be a shortfall of $300 million dollars, which comes from K-12 education.

"That cost is covered by the rainy day account, the rainy day account is around $1.4 or $1.5 billion. And if it's left unchecked, without doing some adjustments in education funding, that shortfall could be 600 million in two years," he said.

Gordon added that the legislature will need to evaluate how to control education spending and funding.

In the proposal, the governor did not opt to cut to the same extent from public safety like the public defender's office, the attorney general and law enforcement, but he said there will be reduction in services.

"District attorneys are reducing their prosecution of misdemeanors," the budget plan reads. "In addition, some will reduce or eliminate their participation in drug or other treatment courts, which have been proven successful to help those who commision of a crime is a result of a drug addiction or mental health crisis."

Under the state's constitution in regards to the supplemental budget, the governor can only present a balanced budget and not propose new potential revenue sources.

Gordon said it will be up to the legislature to identify those.

"I think it's time that we really face up to these facts. Without improvements in our revenue picture, these cuts will most likely be permanent," he said.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Catherine Wheeler at cwheel11@uwyo.edu.