JAC Releases Budget Bill With Aim of Reducing Size & Scope of Government

WY Majority 2-3-2017

After months of meetings and public testimony on how to address Wyoming’s funding shortfall, the Joint Appropriations Committee (JAC) released the 2017-2018 supplemental budget bill today with the goal of reducing the size, and slowing growth, of state government.

“No one likes to make cuts, and no one likes to increase fees,” said Senator Bruce Burns, JAC Co-Chair. “However, with significant revenue shortfalls projected into the near foreseeable future, we’ve been forced to make some tough choices. This budget reflects countless hours and input into how we balance our budget while protecting Wyoming people and communities.”

House Bill 0001 and Senate File 0001, identical bills to be debated in their respective bodies next week, are now available for public viewing and input at www.wyoleg.gov. The budget bill was approved by the JAC on Monday. The bill aims to make equitable and reasonable reductions across all branches of government to address a $156 million shortfall in general government operations. The Wyoming Constitution requires a balanced budget, so lawmakers relied on a collaborative process to identify reductions and targeted fee increases to address both this biennium’s shortfall, as well as those projected in the near future.

“As we face challenging times with diminished revenues, the legislature must look for ways to tighten our belts,” said JAC Co-Chair Representative Bob Nicholas. “JAC has worked hard to ensure we are maximizing every dollar and accomplishing more with less for Wyoming families and business owners.”

The bill includes net reductions to appropriations from the General Fund (GF) and Budget Reserve Account (BRA) of $32.8 million. These reductions are in addition to net budget recommendations from Gov. Matt Mead and the judicial branch to the JAC of $245.2 million in General Funds. This makes a total reduction of $275 million to the 2017-2018 biennial budget. The bill also includes a reduction of 135 full-time positions, 10 part-time positions, and a shift of authorization for 23 positions, resulting in additional savings of approximately $102 million in the next biennium.

“We’ve worked diligently alongside state agencies and key stakeholders to identify opportunities to scale back the size and scope of government,” said Senator Burns. “We’ve tried to distribute the pain as evenly as possible.”

The budget bill would also implement a hard limit on increasing future full-time positions and require the Governor to identify 75 additional positions to eliminate. This reduction in the size of the executive branch would result in a potential savings of more than $10 million.