Gordon Rejects Across-The-Board Cuts to Staff, Spending

in News/Coronavirus

A section of the state budget directing Gov. Mark Gordon to make personnel cuts of $2 million over the next two years was vetoed by the governor Thursday.

Gordon, in a message to legislators, said he expects to reduce staff in state government, but objects to “across-the-board” cuts such as those proposed in the footnote to the $3 billion biennium budget approved by the Legislature.

“The cuts my administration makes will be targeted to the programmatic level,” he wrote. “Across the board cuts of generally funded positions may well have outsized unanticipated consequences depending on the agency and their dependency on federal funding. These consequences could tilt agency governance away from a state-run initiative towards a more federal or ‘other’ funded program mandate.”

The footnote, one of several vetoed by Gordon, ordered him every six months to identify state positions paid for by the state’s “general fund,” its main bank account, that could be cut to save $500,000 for a total savings of $2 million by June 30, 2022.

Gordon also vetoed a section of the budget requiring him to work with state agencies to identify budget cuts of 1 percent that could be made during fiscal year 2022.

In his veto message, Gordon said he agreed that further spending cuts will have to be made in the future, but such cuts must be made in a thoughtful manner.

“I believe we must be thoughtful in our decisions o reduce state spending, examining programs and services strategically instead of implementing hasty across-the-board reductions, which fail to consider any resulting ramifications,” he wrote.

Other items vetoed included calls for studies that Gordon said were similar to ones conducted in the recent past and one calling for an update of the revenue information system at the Wyoming Department of Transportation.

“This provision legislates from within the budget, and even for a project I wholeheartedly support I am impelled to exercise my veto authority,” he wrote

Gordon also pointed out a few programs he will not support in future budgets, including subsidies to programs such as “We the People,” “Ag in the Classroom” and “Centennial Farm and Ranch,” which he said fall outside the normal scope of state government.

“These programs have merit, but should be able to stand on their own merits,” he wrote. “I urge others to donate to these programs, enabling them to carry on independently in the future.”

However, overall, Gordon said he was pleased with the Legislature’s budget.

“I believe the bill you enrolled and delivered to me on March 9 … crafts a sound fiscal plan,” he wrote.”This budget urges government to use our limited resources prudently to advance the needed services our citizens depend on.”

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