Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon Says 2021 Budget Will Be A Tough One

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The proposed supplemental budget for state government to be reviewed by the Legislature when it convenes for its general session later this year will not be an easy one for the state, Gov. Mark Gordon said Tuesday.

Gordon, delivering a message to the Legislature during its one-day virtual session, noted he had already been forced to cut state spending before forwarding to legislators a difficult budget that proposed further spending cuts of $500 million.

“Make no mistake, this budget is a hard one,” he said in comments prepared for delivery to the Legislature. “I have already had to make deeper cuts than any other governor. We have tried to do our best to protect those who are vulnerable. But cuts of this magnitude are unavoidably painful.”

Gordon said his comments were not to be considered the “sate-of-the-state” address usually given on the first day of the Legislature’s session. He said he would deliver the “state-of-the-state” when the Legislature convenes later this year.

The supplemental budget is one of the main items to be addressed during the general session. A supplemental budget is one that is prepared halfway through the fiscal biennium to adjust spending, usually to provide extra funds for selected programs.

However, Gordon’s proposed supplemental budget would reduce the total spending for government operations for the fiscal 2021-22 biennium from $3.3 billion, the budget approved by the Legislature in 2020, to $2.4 billion.

Gordon compared the budget issues to Wyoming’s blizzard of 1949.

“We have to take action — smartly, fairly, and decisively,” he said.

Addressing the state’s financial situation will require more than simply recommending spending cuts, he added.

“Far more than a simple discussion between cuts or enhancements, Wyoming must look for ways to stabilize the booms and busts that come from a focused revenue source,” he said.

Gordon said he has asked the presidents of the state’s community colleges and the University of Wyoming to work together to develop ways to give workers the skills they need to succeed in an evolving economy.

“More than ever, our community colleges and our university must function together,” he said. “So that we can assure our existing as well as new industries and enterprises that there will be a world class, highly skilled, knowledgeable, nimble, entrepreneurial, and motivated workforce.”

Gordon said he would offer other ideas and strategies when the Legislature convenes for its session. Current plans call for virtual meetings by committees to review proposed legislation in mid- to late January, followed by an eight-day virtual session in late January and early February.

The body is to convene in person in early March, if health conditions allow, to begin its work on the budget and continue work on other issues.

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