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State of Wyoming


Wyoming's legislature meets next week and among the topics will be education spending and budget cuts. Gov. Mark Gordon joined Bob Beck to talk about a number of things including some of the budget challenges the state is facing.

Wyoming Legislature

During a Wyoming House Education Committee meeting, School District officials said they have been cutting budgets for many years and those cuts are starting to erode programs. The committee is looking at cutting education funding by $100 million.

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming schools are looking at a big cut and calibration to the state's school funding model this year. Educators are worried about what this means for their students and instruction as lawmakers are considering the next steps.

Wyoming Public Radio's Catherine Wheeler spoke with State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow about how this time the cuts will impact education in a big way.

Wyoming Taxpayers Association

Wyoming lawmakers have been in a cutting mode since coal revenues started to decline, but with oil and gas also bringing in less money than usual it's tougher for the state to pay for services. Lawmakers plan to address their budget shortfall by approving a number of cuts to the current state budget when they meet in March.

One solution is to raise taxes, but for many the solution is to reform the tax structure, so that energy does not pay the majority of taxes in the state. Ashley Harpstreith is the Executive Director of the Wyoming Taxpayers Association. She explains why her organization likes this approach.

geralt via Pixabay

The Wyoming House Revenue Committee has actually approved a tax bill. Committee members voted to send a 14 cents a pack increase on cigarettes to the House floor. The bill also increases the tax on smokeless tobacco by 12 cents.

BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT

A state legislative committee is discussing the last stages of approval for a major oil and gas project in Converse County. The U.S. Department of Interior just has to sign the Record of Decision (ROD), which Select Federal Natural Resource Management committee members like Douglas Sen. Brian Boner is anxious to finish or even speed up.

Patrick Amole via wyomingbusiness.org/ERP

Wyoming will double its contribution of federal CARES Act funds to the oil and gas industry through the Energy Rebound Program.

Ekaterina Pokrovsky / Adobe Stock


When Willow Belden goes holiday shopping she likes to support local businesses. This year, though, it's meant calling stores and asking, "Are you guys wearing masks? But are you really wearing masks? And, like, what else are you doing?"

Location for Chokecherry and Sierra Madre wind project. Several in public comment spoke from the county, along with a project official
Power Company of Wyoming

The state legislature's Joint Revenue Committee set aside time during a recent meeting to learn how the wind industry is currently being taxed in the state; no bill on the subject was under discussion.

Public Domain

The Legislature's Joint Revenue Committee has voted to recommend approval of a nine cent fuel tax increase to pay for highway maintenance. Wyoming Department of Transportation Director Luke Reiner said WYDOT faces a funding gap of $136 million and the tax increase would help chip away at that.

uwyo.edu

Over the past three years, the Wyoming legislature has passed laws to create a regulatory environment for blockchain application growth. Now, the new University of Wyoming Center for Blockchain and Digital Innovation hopes to help keep this new industry in the state.

Eda Uzunlar

Wyoming's revenue picture looks better than it did in May, but a top state budget analyst told the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee that it's still not good. 

picserver.org/e/economy.html

A new report from the Wyoming Department of Administration and Information shows that sales tax numbers last spring dropped dramatically in both mining and lodging.

Catherine Wheeler

This is the time of year when lots of drivers are typically on Wyoming highways. But like in so many other ways, this spring has been far from usual.

State of Wyoming

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon says despite calls to reopen businesses he prefers to take a more conservative approach as Wyoming approaches the COVID-19 peak for the state.

He speaks to Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck about his thoughts on keeping people isolated, dealing with an economic downturn, and what's in store for the state.

Restaurants, bars and major ski resorts have begun to temporarily shut down across the Mountain West this week in an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19. But economists said it’s still too early to fully understand the breadth of how these closures will impact the region’s booming tourism economy.

Bob Beck

The Wyoming Legislature wrapped up its work this week with concerns about the future. A downturn in oil prices and worries about a drop in investment income has lawmakers thinking that they may need to make some difficult decisions in the not-too-distant future.

www.nrel.gov

There were only six bills centered on renewables this session, but you'd be forgiven to think there were many more. Even when it wasn't the topic of conversation, renewables were on lawmaker's minds.

Online GIS Maps; Cooper McKim

Wyoming legislators are working through two bills that would lay the groundwork to study and potentially buy over a million acres of land and four million acres of mineral rights across the southern part of the state.

The 1,010,900 acres of land in question sits within six Wyoming counties: Lincoln, Uinta, Carbon, Albany, Laramie, and Sweetwater. Local officials are beginning to grapple with the potential risks and rewards of the deal.

Governor Mark Gordon announced this week that Wyoming is looking to buying a million acres of land across southern Wyoming and surrounding states along with 4 million acres of mineral rights.

Wyoming Bureau of Land Management attribution 2.0 generic (CC by 2.0)

Jim Robinson, principal economist for the Wyoming Economic Analysis Division, said when he looks at Wyoming's economy in the coming year, it's not going to bring news that anyone wants to hear. 

State of Wyoming

Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon presented his budget to the legislature's Joint Appropriations Committee this week and it didn't feature massive budget cuts some were predicting due to a downturn in revenue. The governor joins Wyoming Public Radio's Bob Beck to discuss his strategy along with some other topics.

California is king of U.S. agriculture. But on a per capita basis, no state brings in more farm revenue than Idaho.


curtmeierfortreasurer.com

In November, Curt Meier replaced now-Governor Mark Gordon as the state treasurer. Meier said the Treasurer's Office has been busy filling new staff positions while staying within budget.

FY 2019-2020 Biennium General Fund and Budget Reserve Account Revenue Forecast Comparison (M = millions).
CREG

Following a bout of weak oil prices, state revenue from the industry is expected to go down dramatically, according to a Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) report. It predicts the state will collect about $67 million less this biennium than forecast in October of last year. The overall contribution of severance taxes, investment income and royalties are still forecast to be higher than in the last biennium.

Just Transition Fund

Google has given a million dollars to an organization devoted to helping coal communities as the industry declines. It’s part of a wider $50 million initiative announced Tuesday focused on the future of work.

Senate President Eli Bebout Speaks To Full Senate
Cooper McKim

It’s the third of four weeks in the 2018 budget session. With the current revenue crunch, many bills have revolved around spurring new revenue, finding new sources, or cutting back on spending. And for energy, it’s no different. The surviving bills also come down to money. Thirteen bills arose related to energy, with only three still moving through the system. There are others that relate, but are not directly tied to energy.