While hot-button bills dominate the headlines, both the Wyoming House and Senate are diligently working to create and reconcile the best budget for the state.
Wyoming House Speaker Pro Tempore and House District 48 Representative Clark Stith released his “legislative half-time report” for the ongoing work of the 67th Wyoming Legislature. His update focuses on the House’s iteration of the state budget, which he says “focuses on Strengthening Wyoming’s Economy.”
The general session of the 67th Wyoming State Legislature is marking a month of work by both chambers focused on Wyoming families, investing in Wyoming people, and promoting economic development and diversification.
The House of Representatives and the Wyoming Senate passed their versions of the budget bill on Friday, February 3. House Bill 0001, also known as the supplemental budget bill, focuses on the pocketbook and kitchen table issues affecting Wyoming’s hardworking men and women.
The House and Senate versions of the supplemental budget bill are remarkably close when it comes to dollar amounts.
“The House of Representatives budget bill puts nearly $1 billion into savings, making significant investments in Wyoming’s people, the state economy, and in Wyoming’s future. We also are placing a special focus on the fight against government overreach to protect and promote Wyoming small business owners and medical providers,” said Stith.
The House and Senate versions are identical on K-12 school spending, fully approving a recommended inflation adjustment of over $70 million and allocating $129 million to school construction and maintenance.
Both the House and Senate versions save almost twice as much they spend, with $1 billion in savings and about $515 million in spending. The Senate’s bill outspends the House slightly, by about $1.5 million. The Senate version of the budget bill allocates less to health care and $28 million to property tax relief.
There are disagreements about where the savings go and what to spend it on, but the budget bills reflect a Wyoming Legislature fully aware of the volatility of state revenue and the need to balance present and future needs.
In House Bill 0001, the major areas of focus are:
- K-12 education – $129 million
- Department of Health – $38 million
- Wyoming Business Council -$37 million
- Following on the success of attracting advanced vertical farming company Plenty, Inc. to relocate its research headquarters in Wyoming, $30 million is allocated to the Wyoming Business Council for further economic development.
- University of Wyoming – $36 million
- School of Energy Resources – $12 million (for carbon engineering research)
- Engineering School – $6 million
- College of Agriculture – $2.5 million
Substantially adjusting the reimbursement rate to dentists who provide critical dental health services to 40,000 children and senior citizens in the state increased funding for nursing homes and for the developmentally disabled, where funding had been cut during theCOVID pandemic.
Funding trust funds as a savings mechanism and utilizing the interest income to make our communities more livable, develop Wyoming’s workforce, and enhance the state’s wildlife
The House and Senate bills will now move to the conference committee for reconciliation.
Other bills that are still alive contain an additional $333 million for the benefit of Wyoming communities including $202 million for capital construction, $38 million for water projects, $26 million for support to local governments, and $10 million to enhance the safety of school crosswalks. These bills are currently in various stages of discussion and debate.