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Legislative Report: Budget Bills Set Aside [AUDIO]

Wyo Legislature, Karen Snyder, K2 Radio
Wyo Legislature, Karen Snyder, K2 Radio

Lawmakers took today off from the supplemental budget to work other bills, but some reflected on what they have done so far. Amy Richards has more in Wednesday’s Legislative Report.

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This Legislative Report is brought to you by Hilltop National Bank.

Both the House and Senate passed budget amendments on second reading to add 10 million dollars to the 35 million already recommended by the Joint Appropriations Committee for local government funding. Sen. Eli Bebout says he did not support the amendment on the Senate side.

Sen. Eli Bebout, small communities:

“This just gets back to my philosophy on supplemental budget bills. We have an opportunity to do a regular budget bill, and we are being, I think, very responsible and reasonable in putting forth the 35 million. The issue really becomes, now that they’ve captured another 10 million in the Senate from CAPCON, but the House has 10 million for ongoing expenses, and I would rather see the 10 million spent for ongoing expenses because of the small communities, and that money really gets to where it needs to be spent.”

Sen. Chris Rothfuss says he voted for the extra money because it will help address a backlog of projects in Albany County.

Sen. Chris Rothfuss, backlog of need:

“In Albany County we’ve got roads to worry about; we’ve got water to worry about. We’ve got a lot of infrastructure projects that have been pushed forward into the future, over and over again to the point where now we’re in trouble in a lot of these things, so I know that Albany County has been looking for some additional funding, and I’m hopeful that this is really going to help out.”

Rep. Pete Illoway says he supported the additional money because it’s needed especially in southeast Wyoming.

Rep. Pete Illoway, growth area:

“Everything that’s going on in Laramie County and the more people coming into Cheyenne, yes, sales taxes are going to be up, but on the other hand, we did cut back. We do need those services. We do need to fix our streets. We do need to fix county roads, so I always try to support local governments, especially down here.”

Rep. Rosie Berger, the co-chairman of the Joint Appropriations Committee says the issue now will be which funding method the two chambers will adopt. Berger says it’s been an interesting debate on the budget so far especially with all the freshmen in the House.

Rep. Rosie Berger, funding debates:

“It’s a continuing tweaking of programs and budgets, and I think it was an interesting debate. It was long yesterday but I think good things happened, working in particular on health care access issues, working with the local government. We always thought all along, I believe, that we were going to address more funding for that. We just didn’t know how we would do it.”

Third reading on the budget is set for tomorrow (Thursday) and it’s expected there will be a flurry of amendments.

The Senate gave initial approval to House Bill 5 which would essentially make the state the co-signer on University of Wyoming bonds. Sen. Rothfuss says it’s a good idea.

Sen. Rothfuss, House Bill 5:

“What that’s going to do is help reduce their interest rates, and that’s going to save the taxpayer some money and save the university some money.”

The Senate also gave initial approval to House Bill 13 that would change the Hathaway success curriculum to require students to take two years of a foreign language and then have the the option of taking two years of fine arts or vocational ed.

With the Legislative Report, I’m Amy Richards for K2 Radio News.

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