Libertarian Group: Wyoming School Funding Lawsuit LIkely
An official with Wyoming Liberty Group says he's hearing from key legislators that yet another court fight over school funding in Wyoming is likely or almost certain.
Bob Nelson on Friday said veteran lawmakers who are "well-connected" have told him they think there is a good chance the state and Wyoming educators will square off again in court. Nelson is a school finance policy analyst with the Liberty Group, which works to support libertarian causes in Wyoming
"I suspect it's likely," Nelson said. He added "And people I have talked to agree. Some have said it's certain." Lawmakers have been struggling to deal with a $400 million shortfall in school funding in light of a major downturn in revenues caused by depressed energy prices.
The Wyoming House and Senate have developed different funding proposals, both of which potentially could lead to significant cuts in money for schools. The two houses will have to hammer out a final budget proposal before the end of the session on March 3.
Laramie County School District #1 Superintendent John Lyttle said on Thursday that while the House proposal would be challenging for Wyoming School Districts, "We could do that."
But he says the Senate proposal potentially lead to cuts in the range of $91 million, about twice as much for LCSD#1 as the House proposal.
"That's the one everyone is concerned about," Lyttle says. "We are hopeful it will go more towards the house side, at least for this first step," he adds.
The Senate has also attached an amendment to bar school districts from using state money to sue Wyoming over school funding.
The House rejected a similar proposal, and it's not clear whether the final budget will include that provision. School funding lawsuits are nothing new in Wyoming. Similar court battles have raged in the state since at least 1980.