By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily
Gov. Mark Gordon and his state agency heads will begin their work this week to cut the state’s biennium budget to deal with projected revenue shortfalls of $1.5 billion, he said Wednesday.
And the governor warned residents during a news conference that they will have to expect both program and personnel reductions.
“Some of the things that are on the (list for cuts) will be funding for things like mental health, sex offender programs, children, elder care … travel out-of-state for some of our agencies,” he said. “These are some of the many very difficult choices we will have to make and there will be reductions in force. None of that is good.”
Wyoming’s Legislature approved a budget for the 2021-22 biennium, which began on July 1, during a budget session that ended in March.
Shortly after, a collapse in mineral prices led state officials to predict that tax revenues for the biennium would fall $1.5 billion short of earlier projections, requiring budget cuts.
Gordon asked all of his agency heads to submit ideas for reducing their budgets by 20% and said Wednesday he has asked the officials to propose additional cuts of 10%.
“The cuts we’ve talked about here are getting close to the bone,” he said. “In some cases we really are talking about the bone. We will talk about some very precious programs and some very valuable people. I don’t look forward to any of this.”
The state’s agencies will work to improve the efficiency with which they provide services, Gordon said, to avoid reducing those services more than necessary.
In the upcoming election, Gordon said, candidates for the Legislature need to understand the challenges the state faces so they can be prepared to act accordingly during the Legislature’s general session in 2021.
“This election is essential to make sure we have quality candidates who understand the challenges and choices we have to make … in a way we can emerge from this, as I know we can, successfully and stronger,” he said. “Our session coming up in January will be one of the most important sessions that this state has ever seen.”