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Wyoming lawmakers to consider $100 million education cut

January 5, 2021 GMT

GILLETTE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers will consider a proposed $100 million public education funding cut when they meet this winter.

The bill would take away millions of dollars from school districts across the state while increasing the state sales tax by a percentage point, the Gillette News Record reported Tuesday.

Wyoming has been struggling with a steep decline in revenue from the coal, oil and natural gas industries due to low prices and the coronavirus pandemic. The virus has resulted in less travel and lower demand for oil worldwide.

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Gov. Mark Gordon in November submitted a proposed supplemental budget for 2021-22 containing more than $500 million in cuts to some of the state’s largest agencies, including the Department of Health, Department of Corrections, Department of Family Services and the University of Wyoming.

Since signing a two-year budget last March, Gordon has cut state agency spending 10%. Lawmakers would slash the biennial budget from $3.3 billion to $2.4 billion if they passed Gordon’s supplemental budget as originally written.

Even so, Wyoming would still be facing a deficit in K-12 education funding the governor cannot reduce unilaterally.

The Legislature is scheduled to convene a one-day, online session Jan. 12. Lawmakers usually meet for about eight weeks in odd-numbered years.

This year, they plan to swear in new legislators, hear Gordon’s State of the State address and attend to other routine matters that day before adjourning.

They plan to reconvene for either a virtual session in February or an in-person session in Cheyenne in March, depending on trends with the coronavirus pandemic.