budget cuts

Wyoming Department of Education

Wyoming has seen its first drop in student enrollment in more than a decade according to data collected by the state Department of Education. Districts lose money when enrollment declines. The good news is that enrollment funding is based on a three year rolling average.

Department of Education Communications Director, Kari Eakins, said that gives school districts a little bit more time to make wise cuts.

Bob Beck

 

It’s been a rough year for state officials. A greater than expected revenue decline last spring forced lawmakers to cut $67 million out of existing budgets, and the governor was forced to follow-up with an additional $250 million. While revenues are starting to show some moderate improvement, lawmakers will soon be debating the wisdom of even more cuts, especially as a revenue shortfall for education looms.

Bob Beck

 

After several months of budget cuts, it was a surprise to some that the governor did not propose any more reductions in his supplemental budget. He will present that budget to the legislature’s joint appropriations committee on Monday. Prior to that meeting the governor agreed to join Bob Beck to discuss his budget strategy.

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead says the state’s biggest future budget concern is K-12 education funding. During a news conference discussing his current budget request, the governor said school funding could face a shortfall of over $600 million in the next budget cycle.  

To address the issue the governor is once again pushing to create a task force that would focus on school funding issues. He said the task force needs to include parents and educators.              

Bob Beck

Wyoming Governor Matt Mead unveiled a mostly flat supplemental budget that features no new budget cuts.

The governor is proposing limited spending, using only a small portion of the legislature’s rainy day fund for things like Title 25 that addresses those with mental health issues, and a contingency fund for corrections. He put forth bonding as a way to fix problems with the prison in Rawlins.  

The Wyoming Legislature's Joint Education committee is drafting two pieces of legislation that could significantly reduce the amount of money that school districts get through the school funding model.  

One would raise the class sizes in the funding model, which would lead to the reduction of millions of dollars that currently flow to school districts. Sweetwater County School District two is based in Green River. 

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols unveiled the proposed budget cuts for Fiscal Year 2018 at a town hall meeting Wednesday. The cuts total about $10 million, with nearly $6 million of that coming from division cuts, and the rest through retirement incentives, eliminating vacancies on campus, and increased efficiency. The cuts do not include layoffs.

President Nichols said there was talk of cutting up to $15 million, but the consensus was to go a more conservative route and adjust later if the state decides to cut the university budget further.

WIKIMEDIA COMMONS

Enrollment is down slightly this fall at the University of Wyoming. UW officials say that enrollment declined by 234 students compared to fall of last year. The decrease startled Sara Axelson, Vice President of Student Affairs, who said the decrease was due to fewer out of state students.

Maggie Mullen

Wyoming’s economic downturn has decreased the amount of money the state gives to local governments at a time when many counties were already facing local revenue losses.

Johnson County Treasurer Carla Faircloth said her county's assessed valuation is down more than anywhere else in the state. Natrona County Sheriff Gus Holbrook said he has had to cut five positions and he predicts that may increase emergency response time.

Natrona County Coroner Connie Jacobson said like most agencies, her department is learning to do more with less.

University of Wyoming

This week University of Wyoming officials proposed cutting 16 academic programs in order to meet a $15 million budget cut required for the next fiscal year. 

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols notes that they are also looking at consolidating some programs and so in total she says they are actually looking at 8 to 10 program eliminations. 

Bob Beck

Earlier this year the Wyoming legislature cut $36 million from money they provide to school districts. Since that time districts have been trying to get that money back and convince lawmakers that additional cuts would hurt their ability to adequately teach students.  

University of Wyoming

The University of Wyoming says it is considering the elimination of six bachelor’s degrees, eight master’s degrees, and two doctoral degrees as part of its mandated budget cuts. 

Bachelor’s degrees recommended for elimination are: American Studies, Russian, energy systems engineering, art education, modern language education, and technical education.  

Department of Education

Over the last several weeks we’ve gotten lots of information concerning testing of students. Some were more positive than others. To get a full assessment of how students are doing we turn to State Superintendent of Public Instruction Jillian Balow.

Bob Beck

Many programs on the University of Wyoming campus are facing budget cuts, but there are those who believe that academics is suffering more than it should.

That’s especially when compared to athletics. In public forums several faculty and staff members say they want athletics de-emphasized at the University. The reason is because they think it costs a lot and is not priority. 

Stephanie Joyce

In fiscal year 2016, the University of Wyoming’s utility bill was $10.8 million—almost $2 million more than fiscal year 2015. Next year, as new buildings under construction come online, that bill is likely to increase, even as the University faces $41 million in budget cuts. That means there may be hard choices ahead—keep the lights on, or keep people employed.

The University of Wyoming broke records last year for private donations, with total gifts in fiscal year 2016 totaling $63.1 million. 

The record year comes amid a major downturn in the energy sector, the state’s number one industry. 

“Let me just say, [it] could not be better timing,” said Ben Blalock, president of the University of Wyoming Foundation. 

Blalock said they didn’t expect the increase, but that when you look at where private giving comes from it is less surprising.

Liam Niemeyer

Due to Wyoming’s economic downturn, a number of state agencies have been required to cut their budgets to make up for a revenue shortfall that could reach $300 million. Among the cuts is $1 million that the Wyoming Department of Corrections uses for substance abuse treatment. 

At the same time, the Wyoming Department of Health is cutting funding for local substance abuse treatment. Some worry the cuts could harm those in and out of the prison system.

University of Wyoming

 

Wyoming President Laurie Nichols started her job on a Monday, the Monday after the Friday when Governor Matt Mead told the UW trustees that they must whack an additional $35 million from the University budget. The state’s fiscal downturn has led to a $41 million cut from the UW budget.

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols said that planned budget reductions for this fiscal year may fall short of goals. So, she told the UW trustees Wednesday to plan for $15 million dollars in budget cuts in the next fiscal year.

They had hoped to only cut $10 million, but UW has not yet realized forecast savings in early retirements or by increased teaching loads. The University is currently looking at cutting a variety of academic and non-academic programs after being told it would receive $40 million less in revenue over the next two years. 

Liam Niemeyer

Budget cuts at the state level will mean about $18 million less for the Wyoming Department of Corrections. Department officials said with those cuts, they’ll be forced to operate their prisons with fewer people.

Department Director Bob Lampert said 125 vacancies throughout the department will not be filled. 45 of those vacancies are coming directly from employees in the state’s prisons.

Wikimedia Commons

University of Wyoming President Laurie Nichols brought together faculty and staff Wednesday to discuss the financial crisis she declared last week at the university.

At the meeting, President Nichols detailed how the university plans to cut about $30 million over the next two years. In her plan, Nichols said the university will raise tuition by 4 percent—and eliminate 70 vacancies throughout campus. Around 50 faculty and staff will also have to voluntarily retire for the university to save enough money.

Wikipedia Creative Commons

The City Council in Casper voted to cut the city’s budget by more than a third on Tuesday.

While the cuts do not include any layoffs, Casper City Council member, Bob Hopkins, says there will be a reduction in capital spending, elimination of 23 vacant positions and early retirement for some city employees.

Hopkins says the primary goal of the cuts is to keep public services, like street maintenance and snow plowing, going during the economic downturn.

Bob Beck, Wyoming Public Radio

Due to declining revenues the Wyoming Department of Health has been told to cut $90 million from its budget, that’s a nine percent reduction, the largest cut faced by any state agency. It will impact the two year budget that begins July first.

Director Tom Forslund said the loss of state funds also means the Department will lose an additional $43 million in federal matching money. Had the legislature voted to expand Medicaid it would have softened the blow, especially since the Department could shift some money from its budget to pay upfront costs. 

Bob Beck

Due to declining state revenues, Governor Matt Mead announced that he is cutting the state budget by $248 million.

The Wyoming Department of Health is being asked to cut its budget by $90 million for the next two years, which Mead said will lead to a loss of 677 private sector jobs. The University of Wyoming will cut $35 million, community colleges $20 million and the Department of Corrections $17 million. Mead told the Joint Appropriations Committee Tuesday that he had no choice.

University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming Trustees passed a resolution supporting President Laurie Nichols’ efforts to cut $41 million dollars from the UW budget due to falling energy revenues.

UW will eliminate 70 vacant positions and require faculty to increase their teaching load to help meet the shortfall. Faculty have expressed concern that more teaching will take away from their ability to conduct research. Nichols said that comes with the territory.

K-12 leaders from 28 different school districts are urging lawmakers to roll back recent cuts to education funding—and to follow Wyoming’s statutory school funding model.

They’ll meet with the Legislature’s Joint Education Committee this week and ask those lawmakers to sponsor legislation restoring $36 million dollars in cuts to school funding over the next two years.

But Committee Chairman Senator Hank Coe says that’s unlikely.

“We’ll be lucky if we’re able to fund K-12 at the levels we're funding it right now,” Coe says.

Liam Niemeyer

As many local governments are finalizing their budgets for the upcoming year, the city of Laramie is expected to feel the financial crunch happening at the state level.

The city is receiving about $2.2 million less from the state. In response to that, along with stagnant sales tax revenue, the city will eliminate 14 positions from various departments. Those positions include an animal control officer and two officers in the Laramie Police Department's Traffic Enforcement Unit.

Bob Beck

 

Due to a massive drop in projected revenues, the Governor is trying to cut spending for the next two-year budget cycle by eight percent. He said he is trying to cut spending levels back to where they were ten years ago.

The University of Wyoming has already started working on a cut of near 40 million dollars and the largest cut will likely come from the Wyoming Department of Health. Tom Forslund is the Director of the Department and Bob Beck met with him in Cheyenne to discuss what that kind of cut means.

Budget Cuts Before Taxes

May 23, 2016
Bob Beck

  

Wyoming’s revenue picture is dire. Thanks to declining energy and sales tax revenue Governor Mead has already started cutting nearly 300 million dollars from the two-year budget that was approved by the legislature in March.

Bob Beck of Wyoming Public Radio

To save money, the Wyoming legislature may meet only 37 out of 40 possible days next year and will make other reductions in travel, staffing, and purchases.  

Due to a downturn in expected revenues, the legislature’s management council voted to reduce the legislature’s upcoming two-year budget by 12 percent. The governor is working with all state agencies and the University of Wyoming to reduce their budgets by an average of eight percent. 

Speaker of the House Kermit Brown said the upcoming session may be difficult and lawmakers may need all 40 days. 

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