An Omnibus Education Bill received initial approval by the Wyoming House of Representatives Friday, but not before a heated tax debate. The House rejected a proposed 2-percent tax increase that was part of the bill and instead approved a half penny tax that kicks in when the rainy day fund falls below $500 million dollars.
Encampment Representative Jerry Paxton supported the larger of the two tax increases and said the state needs to act now to produce more revenue.
The Wyoming Senate passed a proposed constitutional amendment Friday to give the legislature the power to determine how much the state should spend on public education. The amendment, if supported by the public, would diminish the power of the courts.
Laramie Senator Chris Rothfuss said he voted against Senate Joint Resolution nine because it would adversely change the nature of the relationship between the courts and the legislature.
The Senate Education Committee is continuing to work on Senate File 165 that proposes a number of reductions to school funding. The measure is one of several being considered as the legislature looks to make up a $400 million shortfall in K-12 funding.
Among the bill’s proposals, it would freeze special education funding and offer early retirement to teachers within five years of retiring. The committee has heard over five and half hours of public input.