The Wyoming legislature’s 2018 budget session reached the halfway point Friday. Highlights include: (1) both houses closed the expected $902 million shortfall between expected revenue and expenses for the 2019-2020 biennium with no new taxes; (2) despite “sky is falling” rhetoric from various special interest groups, under the House version of the budget, K12 education funding will be within 0.3% of the existing funding model’s recommendations; and (3) several big ticket projects, such as a new $100 million Science Initiative at UW and the final $81 million owed on the $300 million Capitol Square Project, will be fully funded.
HB86 -medicaid birth cost recovery, sponsored by Clark Stith, R-Rock Springs, survived 1st reading in the House by a vote of 31-29 Thursday night. It passed easily on second reading Friday. If it survives third reading, it will go to the senate.
The budget amendment to fund the Bitter Creek restoration project passed the Senate on Thursday 16-14, but failed in the House. The issue will now be part of the House-Senate budget conference committee.
Stith’s proposed budget amendment No. 26 to HB1, which would have devoted $22.5 million of already budgeted funds to the costs of school security personnel (about $68,000 per Wyoming school), was left stranded on the ash heap of amendments not considered by the House on Friday. Stith noted that while the current budget allocates $14.9 million out of the State Construction Department for “hardening” of school buildings, the current budget for security personnel in both the House and Senate budget bills is zero. “I don’t know what the right number [for security personnel] is, but it is not zero,” Stith said.