The Wyoming State Legislature convened its biennial budget session, and will meet from February 8th– March 4th. Due to significant revenue losses from oil, gas, and minerals, the state is considering deep cuts in many areas of the budget. The current proposal will cut $45 million from K-12 education in the state over the next two years ($15 million the first year, and $30.7 million the second). Additional education cuts include eliminating the funding for family literacy programs in the state ($3.3 million), and cuts to funding for the University of Wyoming (the state’s only four year university).
All of us involved in education across the state are keeping a close watch on the budget process. Many individuals and groups, including the Wyoming Education Association (WEA), are actively lobbying legislators to vote against the proposed cuts and restore funding back to current levels by drawing on the state’s ‘rainy day fund’. According to Coleen Haines, the WEA Communications Director, “Districts may have to increase class sizes, lay off staff and cut employee hours – all of which lead to less one-on-one time, leaving some students struggling. Students in Wyoming’s smaller, more rural districts must be given the same opportunities as those students in larger districts. Wyoming legislators need to hear from you, how important reinstating these cuts are to Wyoming students”.