February 12, 2016—Mineral extraction remains the main driver behind Wyoming’s economy and state revenue, but some sectors of the energy industry are starting to struggle. These downturns have led to some proposed cuts in state funding for various social service programs, including LIHEAP and WAP. State Senator Tony Ross and other members of the Joint Appropriations Committee lamented the need for such cuts, but stated that “the reality is everyone needs to chip in a little.”
Several programs, such as tax refunds for the elderly and disabled, are seeing their state supplemental funds cut by half; the public elementary school system is seeing a cut of $45 million. Supplemental funding for LIHEAP and Weatherization, however, are being cut entirely in the cuts approved by the appropriations committee. Governor Matt Mead had supported a request to increase the current biennium amount for the programs from $2.1 million to $5.3 in his budget proposal. The committee, however, voted to remove state funding entirely.
State Senator Wayne Johnson, who was not a part of the appropriations committee, expects to see efforts in the near future to restore some of the cuts when the budget bills get to the floors of the House and the Senate.
Sources: Media Sources, Wyoming Legislature