CHEYENNE — Governor Mark Gordon addressed the budget reductions he is making to balance the state’s budget during his press conference on Wednesday, July 15.
Last week, Gordon announced that there will be reductions in cherished programs for seniors, children, mental health and more.
So far, he has approved $250 million in reductions, and that still leaves an estimated budget shortfall of more than $600 million. In a press release last week, it was revealed that Governor Gordon has directed agencies to prepare preliminary proposals to cut an additional 10 percent from their budgets.
“Put simply, we don’t have enough income,” Governor Gordon said. “We lost roughly a third of what we count on to pay our bills and every program in the state.”
He said at this time last year, Wyoming had 33 oil rigs running. Yesterday, the Wyoming Gas Conservation Commission said they have one rig running in Wyoming right now. Gordon added that coal is under enormous pressure.
“A third of our income’s gone, I have no way to raise revenue, I have to make cuts because I have to balance the budget,” Gordon said. “That’s the job of the governor.”
Many comments have been made about tapping into the state’s rainy day funds. Governor Gordon said if they did this, it would last them “maybe” a year, and then the state would have nothing to fall back on.
The first stage of reductions was implementing a freeze on all new positions within state agencies, and cutting all big contracts. The second stage was the first 10 percent agency-identified budget cuts.
“There is no part of government that isn’t feeling the pain of 10 percent. There is no part of the Wyoming citizenry that won’t feel from this 10 percent,” Gordon said.
He said the budget process will be transparent, and residents can view all of the data on wyomingsense.gov.
Some agencies will not receive the full 10 percent cut to their budget, including the Department of Health, and the Department of Corrections, according to Governor Gordon. He said these departments provide some very important services and programs.
Governor Gordon also addressed comments he has heard about how the state is going to try to purchase land in the Occidental Land Purchase if he has to make these drastic budget cuts. He said if the purchase is successful, the state will not be using any of the money that would go toward paying for programs, salaries, or support to towns, counties, and local entities.
Rather the money for the purchase is coming from the state’s investment portfolio, which comes from stocks and bonds.