Wyoming Lawmakers Continue Budget Work With Amendment Discussions

Feb 9, 2017

Credit Wyoming State Legislature

The Wyoming Senate discussed over 25 different amendments to their budget bill and adopted 12 of them on Wednesday. One amendment that was approved reduces salaries of most state employees by two percent. The bill would exclude employees of the University of Wyoming, the state’s community colleges, school districts, and the judicial branch.

Senate President Eli Bebout sponsored the bill. He said the state should consider how the private sector addresses financial trouble.

“When in my business I have shortfalls and I have budget considerations, I just can’t go out and raise taxes, or move money from one area to another,” said Bebout. “I have to make real cuts. And a big part of our government, our growth of our government, is in the section 100 series. That’d be the salaries we pay to our state employees. There’s been a lot of reductions, but most of those have been vacancies.”

Supporters of the bill say the two percent decrease would save the state six and a half million dollars. The Senate’s budget bill will be debated one more time.

The Wyoming House of Representatives’ passed an amendment to their budget bill to appropriate an additional $2 million for the state’s comprehensive waiver for children and adults with developmental disabilities.

Gillette Representative Eric Barlow voted in favor of the amendment. He said children and adults with developmental disabilities are the most vulnerable patients in the state, and their healthcare providers need the state’s support.

“It’s already a struggle to keep people working in this profession that supports these folks because the wages are tough, the work is tough,” said Barlow. “But this is what we do. We take care of the most vulnerable. And this is in my view only getting us half-way to probably where we need to be in this process.”

$1 million would come from the state’s tobacco settlement fund and the other million would come from federal matching dollars. The amendment passed 45 to 15 and will now move to a third reading in the House.

The amendment was one of 32 discussed by the House and one of seven to be adopted.