Wyoming Governor Doubles Down on Budget Cuts; Agencies to Cut 20% Total
Wyoming Governor Mark Gordon announced Wednesday that he's doubling down on cutting the state budget amid significant declines in the energy sector and a worsening revenue situation.
His cabinet have all submitted their proposals to reduce agency budgets by 10%. That, Gordon said during a news conference, will be only the first round of cuts.
"So as you can see, with the cuts that we've really talked about here, they're getting close to the bone. In some cases, we really are talking about the bone," Gordon said. "That next round [of cuts], that we're identifying at this point, will be even harder."
"They will talk about some really very precious programs and some very valuable people," Gordon continued. "I don't look forward to any of this, but these are the times that we live in and these are the decisions I need to make."
The first round of cuts will impact mental health services, sex offenders, child and elder care, industrial siting for the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality and out-of-state travel for state employees. Job losses are expected.
The governor expects to decide on how to implement the first round of budget reductions over the next few days. It was not immediately clear when the second round of cuts might be made, but when all is said and done state agencies will have cut one fifth of their spending this year.
Going forward, Gordon strongly emphasized the need to diversify the state economy and reduce dependence on dwindling revenue from the energy industry. He also said this year's elections will be a critical opportunity for voters to install elected officials who can help move the state forward through the current crisis.
"The people of Wyoming know this, and the people of Wyoming will make wise choices come this fall," Gordon said. "And our [legislative] session coming up in January will be one of the most important sessions that this state has ever seen."