After a lengthy discussion, the Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee voted to support a two-percent external cost adjustment for public schools.
The external cost adjustment would address inflation issues within the school funding model, and is used by most districts to pay for salary increases. Lawmakers have been reluctant to support an ECA over the last several years due to budget concerns, and the appropriations committee was told that spending for education in Wyoming remains among the top 10 in the country.
The State’s Economics Division has released a Cost Living Index report for 2012 which shows an overall increase in Wyoming’s cost of living. The Index compares state economics to the National Consumer Price Index, which looks at costs over time in specific consumer goods categories, such as housing and food. For the fourth quarter, Wyoming saw a slightly higher increase than the National Average. Senior State Economist, Amy Bittner, says that counties in Central and Northwest Wyoming have seen the largest cost of living increases from 2011 to 2012.
The cost of living in Wyoming rose in the second quarter of 2012, compared with the same time last year. That’s according to the state Economic Analysis Division, which calculated a 2.4-percent inflation across six cost of living categories, including rent and food prices. Wyoming Senior Economist Amy Bittner says that’s higher than the national average. “The us over that same time period, measured by the US Consumer Price index was 1.7 percent,” Bittner said. Bittner says a 3.4-percent rise in the cost of rent statewide accounted for a large portion of the state’s inflation.