state budget

Since coal companies are no longer buying coal leases, Wyoming may need to find a new way to fund school construction.

Friday the legislature’s joint revenue committee was asked to support legislation that would increase either property or sales taxes to pay for school construction.  But several legislators say it’s too early to consider a tax.  Revenue Committee member Tom Reeder has voted against the last several budgets and he’s calling for lawmakers to stop spending first. 

“I have heard nobody talk about…we could make government more efficient by doing XYZ.”

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Some community colleges in Wyoming are anticipating drops in state and local revenue, amid an oil and gas downturn.

Wyoming’s 7 community colleges receive about 60 percent of their funding from the state, 20 percent from local property taxes, and the other 20 from tuition.

While some colleges will see their local revenue impacted, Wyoming Community College Executive Director Jim Rose says the state has not announced it will cut any funding for community colleges.

Aaron Schrank

As state lawmakers mull the latest revenue projections it appears that in a few years the state will have a lot less money for education, especially new school construction. 

It’s largely because revenue from coal lease bonus sales is down and that’s what pays for school construction. But a court ruling mandates that the state pay for school construction and maintenance so Wyoming will need to find another way to pay for it. 

The city of Laramie is joining the state of Wyoming in setting a hiring freeze until the state’s financial difficulties get sorted out. 

Laramie City Manager Janine Jordan notes that the state is cutting its current budget by 200 million dollars and state lawmakers will likely cut back on local government spending as energy prices remain low. 

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The budgets of oil states are going to be hard hit by the recent slide in oil prices. Measured in dollars, Texas is the clear loser, but in terms of actual on-the-ground impacts, it isn't quite so simple. In the country’s number two oil-producing state, North Dakota, falling prices have barely caused a ripple, while in Alaska (ranked fourth), lawmakers are calling it a “fiscal apocalypse.” In Wyoming (ranked eighth), reaction has been subdued, but that may not last.

Stephanie Joyce / Wyoming Public Radio




Last week, we brought you what falling oil prices mean for North Dakota, in five numbers. This week, we bring you Wyoming’s outlook, again in five numbers.

1) $37.90 per barrel.

The Wyoming House and Senate have agreed to changes in the state budget bill.  The bill gives public employees a roughly 2.4 percent pay hike, provides money for improvements at community colleges and the University of Wyoming, and $175 million for local governments.  Senator Eli Bebout called it a responsible budget.

The Legislature’s Joint Appropriations Committee wrapped up its pre-session work on Friday and approved additional funding for the Wyoming Game and Fish Department…two percent pay hikes for state, community college, and University of Wyoming employees…and money for a number of construction projects.  Republican lawmakers call their budget conservative and forward thinking, especially since they say the revenue picture is uncertain in the future.  However, a Democratic lawmaker has concerns.  Cheyenne Representative Mary Throne is particularly upset that the J-A-C took money that was intende

The Wyoming House and Senate passed their respective versions of a state budget.  Both bodies feature budget cuts of roughly 6% in an effort to deal with declining revenues.  Cheyenne Representative Mary Throne says she is generally satisfied with the budget cuts.

During discussion on the state budget, legislators held a lengthy debate on whether teachers should be eligible for a one-time bonus intended for all state employees.  The bonus is one percent of an employee’s salary. 

In the Senate, discussion centered around the fact that some teachers could get raises through school district base salary increases, while other state employees have not received raises for up to four years.   Senator Chris Rothfuss pointed out that lawmakers have also denied teachers state pay raises in the last few years. He says that could backfire.