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Wyoming Tax Revenues Up $73 Million From Projections

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

The tax revenues that pay for Wyoming’s government programs are coming in a bit higher than predicted earlier this year, according to a state report.

An update on the state’s revenues prepared by the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group showed that as of the end of March, income for the state’s “general fund,” the main bank account used to pay for state operations, was $45.5 million above what had been predicted in January.

In addition, revenues for the state’s “Budget Reserve Account,” an account used to provide funds for government agencies if money from the general fund runs short, has increased by $25.7 million over projections, the report said.

“Combined, revenue collections are $71.3 million ahead of pace or 6.2% higher than projected at this point in the fiscal year,” the report said.

The CREG is a group of fiscal analysts from various state agencies who track and predict state income. The group’s projections form the basis for the governor’s office and the Legislature as they prepare the state’s two-year budget.

After the Legislature approved a budget for the 2021-22 cycle in 2020, CREG predicted the state would run short of funds by up to $1.5 billion because of slumps in the state’s energy industry and business closures caused by the coronavirus that would reduce tax income.

Gov. Mark Gordon and the Legislature cut the state’s budget by more than $500 million to address the shortfall.

CREG updated its projections in January and predicted growth in some of the state’s tax revenue.

The report released Friday said revenues had grown even more than predicted in January, with sales and use tax collections for the state’s general fund exceeding projections by $18 million through the end of March to total $322.4 million, a 4% increase.

Those numbers could run even higher, the report said, thanks to federal coronavirus relief programs.

“Recent collections do not yet account for potentially increased consumer spending, stimulated by the most recent round of direct individual payments from the American Rescue Plan,” it said.

The biggest gain in sales taxes was from the retail sector, where collections actually exceeded collections by the same point last year by 1.8%.

However, sales taxes paid by the mining sector dropped by 61.4% from last year, the report said.

Despite the slump in the state’s energy industry, severance taxes paid to the state also exceeded projections by $13.6 million, about 10.8%, the report said. Revenues generated by oil production, natural gas production and trona production were all above earlier estimates.

Also topping projections were revenues for the state’s schools, which totaled $264.8 million through the end of March, $11.4 million over earlier estimates.

The report should only be seen as an update to revenue projections and will not be used to make any adjustments in the CREG’s earlier report, said Michael Swank, a senior fiscal analyst with the Legislative Service Office.

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Wyo Legislator: Wyoming Legislative Special Session Will Start July 12

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

A state representative told a Cheyenne radio station over the weekend that the Wyoming Legislature’s special session will likely take place in mid-July.

Rep. Dan Zwonitzer, R-Cheyenne, spoke with KGAB over the weekend and told host Doug Randall that he expected the latest legislative special session to convene July 12 and run for one week. Zwonitzer said all of the state’s legislators have been contacted and told to block out that particular week.

The Legislature is to use the session to discuss the appropriation and distribution of federal coronavirus relief funds.

“It’s about $1.3 billion coming in for municipalities, education, rental assistance, all types of things,” Zwonitzer said during his interview.

Legislative Service Office spokesman Ryan Frost could not confirm the dates of the ses to Cowboy State Daily on Monday, but said the week was being eyed as a possibility for the special session.

Last month, Gov. Mark Gordon announced a program for rental assistance in the state that would use $200 million in federal funding to cover rent and utility costs for Wyomingites struggling financially due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic.

His office also announced last month that the state was expected to receive around $1.2 billion in federal funding, close to Zwonitzer’s own estimate for the special session.

Gordon wanted to identify needs and opportunities that could be addressed with the COVID funds, as well as develop a budget to optimize the distribution.

“Wyoming will survive the impacts of COVID, drive through our period of recovery and set up the conditions for us to thrive in the long-term,” he said. “It is imperative to emphasize long-term benefits because this funding has increased the debt for future generations.”

He stressed collaboration between the Legislature and the executive branch will be required to maximize the benefits of these resources for the people of Wyoming.

“I am committed to working with the Legislature to ensure that we use the funds effectively and responsibly, and that we seek to develop big ideas that will have significant and long-lasting impacts” Gordon said. “Wyoming won’t see these funds for some time, allowing us to develop a plan to ensure these dollars benefit citizens for years to come.”

The American Rescue Plan included $350 billion in aid to states and local governments.

Guidance from the federal government on the use of the funds is expected to be issued sometime this month, but unlike the federal CARES Act funding distributed last year, Wyoming will have nearly four years to spend the money.

The governor wants to focus on three areas in identifying the most significant problems Wyoming is facing due to this pandemic and then use the federal money to address the highest priorities within those areas. The areas are:

  • Health and Social Services
  • Education and Workforce
  • Economic Diversity and Economic Development

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Good News: Scraping Up Roadkill & Eating It Will Be Legal In July

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UPDATE, July 1, 2021: Game and Fish continues to draft regulations to address the new roadkill law passed by the 2021 Wyoming Legislature.

These draft rules will be open for public comment in mid-August. While the law is effective July 1, members of the public will not be able to begin collecting roadkill carcasses until those regulations are approved by the Commission, presented for approval during their November meeting.

———

By Jimmy Orr, Cowboy State Daily

If the idea of seeing a squashed raccoon in the middle of Interstate 80, picking it up with a shovel and putting it in your backseat, and then throwing it on the barbecue when you get home sounds like a great idea, you’re in luck.

Gov. Mark Gordon, earlier this week, signed legislation that allows citizens to scrape dead animals off of any road and then fry them up for dinner, put them in a blender for a smoothie, or consume the animal au tartare as they motor down the road.

That doesn’t mean you can turn your car into a killing machine and intentionally run over animals like a Bambi-version of the movie “Death Race 2000”.

But it does mean that if you see an 18-wheeler hit an elk at 85 mph, turning the animal into the equivalent of a Fourth of July fireworks show, you are allowed to scoop up the carcass, throw it in the back of your pickup, and then have a romantic elk-kabob dinner later that evening.

The question, of course, is should you?

Cowboy State Daily, of course, does not pass judgment on the eating habits of our readers.

As no one on our staff has expertise in roadkill preparation, we turned to BackdoorSurvival.com for answers.

The website provides eight basic tenets to follow when considering making a meal out of squashed rabbits or any other animal.

  1. Make sure it’s legal. Some animals in Wyoming do not qualify. For example, if you hit a grizzly bear with your Mini Cooper (or any other vehicle), you may not eat the grizzly bear. If a Mini Cooper was used, the bear will likely eat you. Regardless, if you hit a grizzly, you must report it to local officials (this does not apply if you have been consumed).
  2. Impact damage. How much of the animal is salvageable. “Squashed squirrel would require a spatula to remove from the asphalt and should be avoided,” it cautions.
  3. Clear eyes. If the eyes are clear, go for it. If the eyes are cloudy with creamy discharges, it’s not advisable. If the eyes are gone, leave it alone, it says.
  4. Stiffness and skin. If the skin moves along top of the muscle, you are probably OK. If the fur can be pulled off the animal, it’s been dead for too long.
  5. Bugs and blood. If you see maggots, it’s not a good idea to pick it up for dinner. But then, this should not be a newsflash.
  6. Climate and weather. It’s advisable to find roadkill during a snowstorm in Wyoming. Meat will decompose in hot and humid conditions, the website says.
  7. Smell. If it reeks, walk away. 
  8. Collection and processing tips. You’ll want to put the animal in some type of bag. It is not advisable to put the animal in the back seat of the car like the elk in the movie Tommy Boy. And don’t field dress the animal in the middle of the interstate.

By the way, you do need a permit to collect the roadkill and you can’t harvest roadkill until July — that’s when the Game and Fish Department will create all the rules.

Until then, bon appetit!

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WyGO Calls Biden a “Tyrant,” “Gun Grabber” For Latest Executive Orders

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Gun Owners group had strong words for President Joe Biden on Thursday with the announcement of new firearm-related executive orders.

Biden’s executive orders included steps to restrict weapons known as “ghost guns,” which can be built with parts and instructions found online and which do not carry a serial number, according to CNN.

WyGO, however, did not think any of Biden’s orders were a good idea, calling the president both a “tyrant” and “gun grabber” in posts made to their social media account on Thursday.

“Joe Biden just launched his massive attack against freedom!” the group wrote Thursday, detailing multiple issues Biden was tackling with the orders. “His handlers decided he will…stop the sale of ‘ghost guns’ and force their sale records to be processed through the government gun owner database.”

The ”ghost gun” ban was one of the seven issues the group tackled in its post. WyGO also encouraged its followers to tell Congress “F No” to red flag gun confiscation.

Red flag laws allow family members or law enforcement to petition for a court order temporarily barring people in crisis from accessing firearms if they present a danger to themselves or others.

Biden has pushed the Justice Department to prepare a template for red flag laws that could be used by states wanting to adopt such restrictions.

Biden’s executive orders come just weeks after a mass shooting in Boulder, Colorado, that left multiple people dead, including a police officer.

The president also announced he is nominating gun control advocate David Chipman to lead the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, which hasn’t had a permanent director in place since 2015.

WyGO also encouraged its followers to reach out to Wyoming legislators about adopting a “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” which was actually proposed during this legislative session by WyGO founder Sen. Anthony Bouchard, R-Cheyenne.

Bouchard’s bill originally would have allowed the state to declare invalid any federal law or rule that was seen as a violation of constitutional Second Amendment rights.

Senators voted 24-6 in favor of Senate File 81, the “Second Amendment Preservation Act,” only after it was heavily amended to create a legal process by which the state could refuse to enforce certain federal gun rules.

Bouchard ultimately voted against the bill, saying its amendments destroyed its original intent.

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Gordon Vetoes Bill On State Land Leases

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

A bill dictating that the state give preference in awarding leases on state lands to people who own or lease adjoining lands has been vetoed by Gov. Mark Gordon.

Gordon, in a letter to Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, said Senate File 114 creates new requirements for leasing stand land would limit the state’s ability to determine which bids for state land would most benefit the state’s schools.

“As written and set before me, this legislation now requires the (State Board of Land Commissioners) to award leases based less on return to the schools and almost solely on how proximate a bidder is to the state land in question,” he wrote. “These changes potentially upset a carefully crafted and historic balance between the two competing interests that is recognized elsewhere in (state law).”

The SBLC is constitutionally required to award leases or sell state lands so “as to realize the largest possible proceeds” for the state’s schools. SF 114 was drafted to resolve a conflict in how state law that describes how SBLC should give preference to competing bids in awarding leases to state lands should be interpreted.

Gordon said he asked the Legislature to address the issue and the result was SF 114, which he said resolved the conflict.

However, Gordon said amendments added to the bill during the Legislature’s general session would limit how the SBLC decides which bids for leases would most benefit the state’s schools.

“In effect, this bill instructs the SBLC to ignore all other criteria except adjacency, which the SBLC would normally consider when determining an optimal solution that would best insure to the greatest benefit of the state’s trust beneficiaries,” he wrote. “Preemptively restricting competitive bidding from the process to lease state trust lands, thereby depressing the potential revenue derived from that activity, seems to stand in contrast with the constitutional obligation (of the SBLC).”

Gordon asked legislators to look at the issue again during the interim.

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Wyoming Gun Owners Praises Passage of Concealed Carry Bill

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By Ellen Fike, Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming Gun Owners organization is celebrating the recent signing of a bill to let visitors to the state carry concealed weapons without a permit.

House Bill 116 was signed into law by Gov. Mark Gordon on Tuesday. The bill removes extends to all law-abiding American citizens Wyoming’s privilege to carry a concealed firearm without a permit.

WYGO posted about the bill’s signing on Tuesday, praising two particular legislators for their work on it.

“BOOOM!!! Moments ago, House Bill 116 was signed into law meaning that Wyoming’s Constitutional Carry laws (one of the oldest in the country) now applies to ALL law abiding gun owners!!!” the organization wrote on its Facebook page. “MAJOR SHOUT OUT to Rep. Bob Wharff and Senator Anthony Bouchard for leading this fight on the inside and a massive shout out to the members of WYGO for hammering this bill into law!!!!! WAY TO GO!!!!!!!!!!!”

Wharff, R-Evanston, was the sponsor of the bill. Bouchard, R-Cheyenne, along with six other Wyoming senators (including Sen. Lynn Hutchings, R-Cheyenne) co-sponsored the legislation.

More than a dozen state representatives co-sponsored the bill, including Bouchard’s primary election opponent in his effort to unseat U.S. Rep. Liz Cheney, Rep. Chuck Gray, R-Casper.

Bouchard is the founder of WYGO, although he is no longer involved in any management positions due to his work as a senator.

The group posted a second time on Tuesday about Wharff and Bouchard, praising their work in the Legislature.

“HUGE SHOUT OUT TO Rep. Bob Wharf and Sen. Anthony Bouchard, the House and Senate sponsors of HB 116, which passed today!!!” WYGO wrote. “No one fights harder for you on the inside!”

This was not the only firearm-related legislation Bouchard worked on this legislative session. He originally sponsored Senate File 81, which would give the state the authority to find certain federal gun regulations invalid.

However, he ultimately voted against the bill after it was amended, saying it no longer had the intent of the original legislation.

As originally written, the bill said the state could declare as invalid any federal law that infringed on Second Amendment rights, including taxes on firearms and ammunition, registration of firearms and laws forbidding the ownership, use or possession of firearms by law-abiding citizens.

The bill would also have forbidden law enforcement officers from seizing weapons in response to federal laws and would have allowed officers and their local governments to be sued over such seizures.

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Wyoming To Vote In 2022 To Allow Local Governments To Invest In Stocks And Equities

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By Jackie Mitchell, Ballotpedia via The Center Square for Cowboy State Daily

The Wyoming State Legislature referred a constitutional amendment to the 2022 ballot that would allow the legislature to provide by law for local governments (county, city, township, town, school district, or other political subdivision) to invest funds in stocks and equities.

Legislation establishing or increasing the percentage of funds a local government could invest would require a two-thirds supermajority vote of the state legislature. Currently, the state constitution allows the state legislature to authorize certain state funds to be invested in stocks.

To put a legislatively referred constitutional amendment before voters, a two-thirds (66.67 percent) supermajority vote is required in both the Wyoming State Senate and the Wyoming House of Representatives.

The measure was introduced as House Joint Resolution 9 on March 4, 2021. It was approved in the House on March 23, 2021, by a vote of 43-16. The Senate approved an amended version of the measure on April 1, 2021, in a vote of 25-5, which was sent to the House for concurrence. The House concurred with the Senate’s amendments on April 1, 2021, in a vote of 46-13.

Between 2000 and 2020, the Wyoming State Legislature referred 20 constitutional amendments to the ballot, of which, 12 were approved (60%) and eight (40%) were defeated.

The legislature was set to adjourn the 2021 legislative session on April 7, 2021. The legislature can also refer measures to the 2022 ballot during the 2022 legislative session.

As of April 2, 2021, 15 statewide ballot measures had been certified for the 2022 ballot in 10 states.

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Gordon Lets Ag-Related COVID Bill Become Law Without Signature

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Gov. Mark Gordon is warning Wyoming’s farmers and ranchers to think carefully before taking advantage of a new law that would let them collect coronavirus relief funds.

Gordon, in a letter to state Senate President Dan Dockstader, R-Afton, explained why he allowed Senate File 50 to become law with out his signature, saying he is worried agriculture producers might be forced to repay the grants they receive under the law.

“I understand that some producers might want to get a chance at the federal one-armed bandit, and therefore will let the bill pass into law without my signature,” he wrote. “In my view, caveat emptor should be the watchword of the program: if producers are willing to take advantage of this program, they should be prepared to possibly have to pay back the grants — a decision that could cripple additional Wyoming industries.”

The bill would allow ranchers and farmers to seek federal coronavirus relief grants given to the state if they claim a loss incurred due to COVID-19.However, Gordon said he is not sure the program will meet federal requirements for the money to be used to compensate businesses for losses caused by COVID-19 or restrictions put in place to slow the spread of the illness.“

Rather than reimburse individuals or businesses for impacts related to an emergency, the program created in this legislation seems to seek some way to give money to agricultural producers simply because they are producers,” he wrote. “I remain concerned about what an unfriendly administration that appears to be preparing for war could do to Wyoming’s key industries, including agriculture.”

Gordon urged legislators to clarify and strengthen the program in the future and to investigate whether the U.S. Department of Agriculture plans to offer a coronavirus relief program.

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Gordon Vetoes Limits On State Rent In Budget Bill

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By Jim Angell, Cowboy State Daily

Limits on the amount the state spends to rent office space proposed by the Legislature are unnecessary because the state has already committed to reducing that cost, Gov. Mark Gordon said.

Gordon, in signing the supplemental budget bill approved by the Legislature last week, also issued eight “line item” vetoes, using his constitutional authority to cut specific items from the budget.

One item he removed is a “footnote” from the Legislature reducing the amount the state Department of Administration and Information can spend on rental space from $24.8 million to $17.9 million.

In his veto message to legislators, Gordon said the Department of A&I is already working to reduce rental costs, so the footnote is unnecessary.

“The Department of A&I has committed to making cuts to the stat leasing program,” he wrote. “I have struck the prescriptive language because, on a practical note, an emergency or unanticipated leasing necessity could require more flexibility. Nevertheless, it remains the intent of the executive branch to reduce our leasing budget by 28%.”

Gordon also vetoed a footnote transferring management of the state Veterans Museum in Casper from the state Military Department to the state Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources.

Gordon noted that the museum’s management was given to the Military Department through legislation in 2008 and if the Legislature wants to return management to the Department of State Parks, it should do so with a separate bill, not through a footnote in the budget bill.

“A transfer of responsibility or authority for any particular program is appropriately the subject of a stand-alone bill,” he wrote.

Also vetoed was language requiring the Wyoming Business Council to administer the Wyoming Council for Women’s Issues for the state department of Workforce Services.

The two agencies are already working to give the WBC control over the program, Gordon said, so the legislation just complicates the issue.

The supplemental budget itself, which details more than $430 million in spending cuts to the biennium budget approved by the Legislature in 2020, was signed into law on April 1 by Gordon.

Gordon praised the Legislature for its hard work.

“These are not easy decisions to make, but this discussion on the fundamental question of the role of government has been a necessity,” he wrote. “Now, as more reductions are implemented, the debate will continue.

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Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon Signs Supplemental Budget

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Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon signed a supplemental budget that includes more than $430 million in cuts and maintains the Governor’s commitment that the state continues to live within its means. He complimented the Legislature for taking a fiscally responsible approach and passing a budget bill that aligns closely with the budget he proposed in November.

“Despite an epic decline in revenue we were able to maintain some crucial programs while making some modest but integral one-time investments,” the Governor wrote in his budget letter. “The budget does set our state back by eliminating valuable programs and services, and some of the impacts of the cuts we have had to make will be felt by those who are already struggling;  but it is our constitutional duty to right-size our government based on revenues.”

Governor Gordon initially proposed cutting state funding by more than $500 million, but the revenue forecast improved in January.  The new budget includes the elimination of 324 state positions and reduces the size of state government to its smallest level since the early 2000s.

This budget restores a modest amount of funding to several Wyoming Department of Health programs for seniors, the disabled, low-income residents and those requiring mental health services. It also restores $8 million in funding to the University of Wyoming  and the state’s Community Colleges to support the Governor’s Wyoming Innovation Network initiative. 

“WIN is an ambitious effort to supercharge all of Wyoming’s post-secondary work by combining the best ideas that can strengthen the state’s workforce, promote entrepreneurship and actively support economic growth and diversification,” the Governor wrote. “I applaud you for giving our higher education system a minor reprieve from deeper cuts for this year.”

The Governor used his authority to issue several line item vetoes, including items that represent substantive lawmaking in the budget bill and those that present separation of powers concerns. He noted that this is the fewest line-item vetoes he has issued since taking office and offered his thanks to the 66th Legislature. 

The Governor’s budget letter explaining his vetoes follows, and can be found here.

April 1, 2021

 The Honorable Eric Barlow,

Speaker of the House of Representatives,

200 West 24th Street

State Capitol Building

Cheyenne, WY 82002

 Dear Speaker Barlow,

 Today’s signing of the supplemental budget marks the end of an arduous but necessary task by many. This budget and the earlier cuts I made in 2020 reflect our shared commitment to the goal of living within our means. I thank you and all the members of the 66th Legislature for the close scrutiny you gave the $500 million in reductions I proposed, and for bearing in mind the negative impacts on services these cuts will cause. These are not easy decisions to make, but this discussion on the fundamental question of the role of government has been a necessity. Now, as more reductions are implemented, the debate will continue.

 Despite an epic decline in revenue, we are able to maintain some crucial programs while making some modest but integral one-time investments. These come at a cost, I realize, but I thank you for setting aside money so Wyoming can take the next step in carbon capture utilization and storage, and for ensuring we have funds for key legal actions to defend Wyoming’s interests. These dollars allow us to continue to fight for our oil, gas, coal, uranium, wind and mining industries while investing in transformational technologies, agriculture, and other diversifying elements of Wyoming’s evolving economy. These decisions require foresight.

 Additionally, I thank you for giving our higher education system a minor reprieve from deeper cuts for this year. Your action recognizes the importance of a collective, organized post-secondary education system embodied in the new Wyoming Innovation Network (WIN), which was created in collaboration with our community colleges and the University of Wyoming. WIN is an ambitious effort to supercharge all of Wyoming’s post-secondary work by combining the best ideas across Wyoming’s institutions that can strengthen the state’s workforce, promote entrepreneurship, and actively support economic growth and diversification. Moreover, this effort will help folks faced with changing work circumstances add to their skills and education, ultimately retaining our workforce and modernizing the deliverables of education.

 The budget does set our state back by eliminating valuable programs and services, and some of the impacts of the cuts we have had to make will be felt by those who are already struggling;  but it is our constitutional duty to right-size our government based on revenues. We are not adding debt for future generations with this budget. However, we cannot rest assured our troubles are over since revenues were already in decline before the global pandemic arrived. I believe we all agree that some of the programs considered for elimination this year, but spared, may need to end next year. Unhappily, some of these services will weigh heavily on the elderly and the disabled. One cannot relish that chore, but as we continue to see our revenues decline, we must continue to evaluate the role of government and what we can afford. Those decisions will affect the level of services the public has come to expect and remind us all of the fact we are fortunate that we can continue to pay very low taxes thanks to the disproportionate share we levy on our mineral industries.

 Specifically, I appreciate your work to fine tune the spending for the final year of the biennium. These vetoes represent the fewest line-item vetoes I have needed to execute in my time as Governor.

 Thank you again for your efforts. With my signature, House Bill 001, House of Representative Enrolled Act 45 has the following line-item vetoes:

 Section 006 Administration and Information Footnote 4

 The Department of A&I has committed to making cuts to the state leasing program.  A&I has been working diligently on this process and will have it fully implemented in the upcoming biennial budget. I have struck the prescriptive language because, on a practical note, an emergency or unanticipated leasing necessity could require more flexibility.  Nevertheless, it remains the intent of the executive branch to reduce our leasing budget by 28%.

 Section 007 Wyoming Military Department Footnote 4

 The management of the Veterans Museum was transferred from the Department of State Parks and Cultural Resources to the Military Department in a single-subject piece of legislation in 2008.  If the legislative intent is that the responsibility for management of the museum returns to State Parks, mandating an MOU represents substantive lawmaking within the budget bill. A transfer of responsibility or authority for any particular program is appropriately the subject of a stand-alone bill. Even so, for the time being the Military Department is committed to working with State Parks for the operation and administration of the Veterans Museum and this can be codified with a stand-alone bill next year.

 Section 024 State Parks & Cultural Resources Footnote 8

 This conforms with the change to the Military Department budget. This footnote presents substantive law-making within the budget bill. I support making this change in a stand-alone bill next year, but until then the Military Department is committed to working with State Parks and Cultural Resources for the operation and administration of the Veterans Museum.

 Section 027 State Construction Department Footnote 2

 The review and performance assessment of individual employees in state agencies is the exclusive responsibility of the Executive Branch and the authority of the Legislative Branch does not extend to the review and assessment of Executive Branch employees.  Since your expressed intent relates to a matter for which you have no authority now or in the future, I have vetoed this footnote.

 Section 053 Department of Workforce Services Footnote 2

 The Department of Workforces Services is committed to working with the Wyoming Business Council for the operation and administration of the Wyoming Council for Women’s Issues. Work is already underway to execute an MOU for the two agencies.  However, mandating such an agreement transfers the authority to administer the Wyoming Council for Women’s Issues to a different agency and therefore represents substantive lawmaking within the budget bill. It is appropriately the subject of a stand-alone bill and I commit to work with you to develop such a bill next year.

 Section 085 Wyoming Business Council Footnote 1

 This conforms with the change to the Department of Workforce Services budget. The required MOU represents substantive law-making within the budget bill. These changes are appropriately the subject of a stand-alone bill. The Department of Workforces Services is committed to working with the Wyoming Business Council for the operation and administration of the Wyoming Council for Women’s Issues.

 Section 206 Department of Education Footnote 2

 This vetoed language is overly prescriptive in directing how an Executive Branch agency functions when it comes to making staffing, workforce and resource allocation decisions, and therefore raises separation of powers concerns. For instance, if the Board of Education wanted to pay this contractor less than $136,890 it could not or if the Board wanted to hire two contractors for $68,445 each to work part-time the Board could not if this footnote remains.

 Section 3

 Careful inspection of the vetoed portion of this section seems especially appropriate on April 1.  This veto conforming to the veto I made to Section 300, requires an especially artful and careful — if clever — use of red ink. 

 Section 300 – Budget Balance Transfers (p)

 Subsection (p) directs the State Auditor’s office to transfer the balance of the Wyoming State Penitentiary Capital Construction Account in equal parts to the Permanent Wyoming Mineral Trust Fund and the Common School Account within the Permanent Land Fund. The State Penitentiary Capital Construction Account was created in 2017 as a sub-account of the Strategic Investment and Projects Account (SIPA). While I am in favor of repealing the SIPA, I believe this account needs to be part of an interim topic discussion and therefore the transfer should not happen at this time.

 With the passage of this supplemental budget, we now must embark on the hard work of creating our next standard budget. I look forward to presenting it to you in November. There are a couple of items I would like to raise now so they are on your radar. First, part of the Department of Corrections’ budget cut was brought forward with the understanding that a separate bill would raise fees to help pay for the cost of probation and parole officers. These are key positions for public safety; however that fee increase did not pass. This is unfortunate and seems ill-timed placing unrealistic burdens on the department to man yet not fully pay for the positions allowed.  I will be seeking to use federal American Rescue Plan dollars for these positions or in the budget next year I will be asking for a provision that enables funding to those positions, which you did restore.  I will ask that they be effective immediately.

 Lastly, I appreciate and applaud our joint efforts to bring more transparency and accessibility to the Executive and Judicial branch budgets over the past couple of years.  More than anything, thank you again for your diligence and service to our wonderful state during trying times.  It has been an honor to work with you for the greater good of the people of this glorious state.

 Sincerely,

Mark Gordon

Governor

cc:

The Honorable Secretary of State, Edward Buchanan,

The Honorable Dan Dockstader, President of the Senate

Chief Clerk, Wyoming Senate

Chief Clerk, Wyoming House of Representatives 

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