By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily
Gov. Mark Gordon has approved a number of cuts to state agency budgets totaling more than $250 million, nearly 10% of the budget for the state’s main bank account.
The cuts, announced in a news release Monday, were necessitated by projections that the state’s revenues in the coming two years would face a shortfall of almost $1 billion for the “general fund” and another $500 million for school funding.
Budget reductions will include state employees losing jobs, mandatory furloughs, a reduction in major maintenance spending and the consolidation of human resources personnel across state agencies, Gordon said.
“This is an incredibly difficult task but we must respond to the financial circumstances the state is facing,” Gordon said in the release. “These cuts will impact families across the state, will affect the services we provide and will have an effect on dollars that flow into the private sector.”
Gordon approved 10% cuts for most state agencies, boards and commissions. The Department of Health, which has the state’s largest budget, will see a 9% cut, totaling $90 million.
Gordon stressed the impacts of the budget cuts will be felt outside of state government. These cuts include significant reductions to state government dollars that enter the private sector in the form of contracts and mean that some services available to the state’s seniors, disabled and low-income residents will be reduced or cut entirely.
“The repercussions to our communities and the businesses of our state are significant,” Gordon said. “While they are necessary, these cuts weaken our ability to deliver the critical services and functions of our state government that Wyomingites depend on.”
Gordon has also instituted a mandatory weekly furlough day for a six-month period beginning August. This will apply to executive branch employees with a high pay rate.
The governor also signed an executive order on Friday that instructed the director of the Department of Administration and Information to coordinate the immediate move of all human resources personnel from various departments across the state to the department. The process is expected to take several months and will lead to a reduction in the state’s human resources personnel.
The budget cuts still leave a forecasted budget shortfall of more than $600 million, Gordon said. He has directed agencies to prepare preliminary proposals to cut an additional 10% from their budgets and submit those concepts to him.
Gordon previously stated that he was considering a range of options to fund an appropriate level of government services, since merely cutting services won’t be enough to address the entire shortfall.