◆ Latest report shows general fund shortfall of $451.1 million and school funding shortfall of more than $300 million.
The October CREG forecast for the State of Wyoming was released on Monday, October 26. The report illustrated a General Fund shortfall of $451.1 million and a school funding shortfall of more than $300 million. According to Governor Mark Gordon, the CREG report reflects “a historic downturn in Wyoming’s economy.”
“I have a fundamental belief that we must live within our means,” Governor Gordon told the Joint Appropriations Committee. “Wyoming suffered its greatest budget shortfall in history this year, just six years after her previous record in 2016. By any stretch of the imagination this crisis is unique, but it is real and we must be prepared.”
In a Tuesday interview with SVI Media’s Duke Dance on the Week-day Wakeup Morning Radio Show, Governor Gordon drew a grim financial picture.
“To put it in perspective, a year ago we had 37 rigs running both oil and gas, we are now at a grand total of four and maybe one coming online,” Gordon said. “Thirty-seven to four, that’s a big jump.”
Whether or not rigs come back online anytime soon will depend largely on the market price and demand for the product, Gordon explained.
Early in the summer, the Governor implemented an initial round of 10 percent cuts. He also asked state agencies to be prepared for additional budget cuts in the future.
“The actions we took early on saved around $400 million,” said Governor Gordon.
With the recent CREG report, additional budget cuts are needed, Governor Gordon said.
“Those cuts are devastating, they truly are,” said Governor Gordon. “The fact of the matter is there just aren’t any easy places to make these cuts. We are talking about families. We are talking about services. We are talking about the money that goes into communities. That is what we are presented with now.”
Gordon said he will continue to work with the Joint Appropriations Committee on budget cuts.
One of the biggest funding issues the state is facing is education, Governor Gordon said.
“One of the things I asked for early on was voluntary cuts of 10 percent, and some of the school districts really stepped up and tried to do that,” said Governor Gordon. “But it comes down to local districts really thinking about how to apply those dollars.”
According to Governor Gordon, when all of the rainy day funding in the state runs out is not the time to consider what needs to be cut from school budgets.
Governor Gordon expressed his appreciation for the efforts of Joint Appropriations Committee as well as the “positive, collaborative working relationship between the Executive and Legislative branches” in Wyoming.
The Governor will release his Fiscal Year 2021-22 Supplemental Budget on November 16.