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Wyoming House Recalibration Committee sets 6.5% cut to education in House Bill 61

House Representative of District 21, Evan Simpson, says the Recalibration Committee has set a 6.5% cut to education in House Bill 61 before it will go on for debate and public comment in the legislative session.

He says Governor Mark Gordon asked for a 10% cut, but it was decided that may be too large of a cut to the programs.

“The Education Committee chairman has decided to wait until we’re live to actually debate those on the floor,” Simpson said. “So while there is a lot of work going on behind the scenes, nothing is actually going to be surfaced in terms of tangible effort on the bill until March.”

Co-chair of the Recalibration Committee, District 20 Representative Albert Sommers, says it will cut K-12 education by $100 million per year. He says the goal right now is how to best roll this bill out so the legislature can receive public comment.

“That bill is really a vehicle on the discussion on how we want to fund K-12 education going forward,” Sommers said in a digital press conference. “How we want to mange our shortfall.”

He says that it may depend on how things roll out in the last week of February, but there may be an opportunity then to start receiving public comments. He says after that there could be items added to or taken away from the bill as debate moves forward.

He also says that he can’t say for sure about it moving forward to the legislature. The bill may not get out of the committee, it may not get out of the House, or out of the Senate.

“But we will have that discussion,” Sommers said. “I frankly believe it is the second biggest or the biggest discussion we should have this whole session.”

He believes the two big things to consider is what should be done with the General Fund and what should be done about K-12 education. He says he has always thought it needs to be a mixture of both raising revenues through taxes and making some cuts.

“We had a report in the Education Committee on the House side from (University of Wyoming),” Sommers said. “That poll came out and it showed the public doesn’t want to cut education and they don’t want to get taxed.”

He says that the state can only continue to dip into the rainy day fund for the state for another three years before that backstop for education ends.