Wyoming Governor Matt Mead told the state legislature that it needs to be proactive during these tough budget times, but not to prioritize savings over people.
During his annual State of the State message Mead expressed disappointment over a number of budget cuts made by the Joint Appropriations Committee in recent weeks.
Governor Mead asked legislators to support Medicaid expansion in his biennial budget. That request was rejected which led to additional budget cuts. During his state of the state address he expressed concern about that.
“Are we willing to cut more than 33 million from literacy, tourism, local government, senior centers, and early childhood development, just so we don’t have to expand Medicaid?”
Mead said Medicaid expansion would provide health coverage to many uninsured in the state, as well as help many Wyoming hospitals by bringing in needed revenue.
Senate President Phil Nicholas says if the legislature wants to expand Medicaid, it should craft a separate bill, and not put it in the budget.
Mead expressed concern that the Joint Appropriations Committee cut too many programs at a time that the state has almost two billion dollars in a reserve account.
House Minority Floor Leader Mary Throne agreed. “The budget needs to be a vision, not just a random cutting spree,” said Throne.
Despite the revenue shortfall Mead said he continues to oppose a tax increase saying that the legislature should look to reserve funding first.