Green River Star -

Our View: Legislative work not appreciated

 

March 29, 2017



A few weeks ago, we received a letter from the chairman of the Wyoming GOP urging residents of the Cowboy State to be appreciative of their legislators and the hard work they completed during the legislative session in Cheyenne.

While we don’t doubt there was a lot of hard work, we don’t agree with the sentiment we should be appreciative of the group’s efforts.

One of the biggest issues coming from the legislative leadership early on was a proposed constitutional amendment that would allow the state to take over federal lands within its boarders. While the bill was ultimately withdrawn by Senate Majority Leader Eli Bebout, it reflects what can only be described as willful ignorance of what most people in Wyoming truly value.

We value the wide open spaces and the ability to drive 20 minutes outside of town to enjoy life away from civilization. An afternoon exploring the Red Desert or a memorable hunt, few would argue that neither of those past-times wouldn’t be impacted if the state took control of federally-managed land.

Worse yet, a state desperate for cash revenue would likely sell parcels of land off for exploration and development and closing access to land used by generations of Wyomingites. How could we be thankful for that?

How can we be thankful for the immense burden the legislature has placed on school districts across the state? Cuts in education are rarely warranted and as opposed to working on a long-term solution that would, for example, divert some funds flowing into the Permanent Mineral Trust Fund and the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account to provide more funding to education and make up a $380 million funding deficit, they decided to simply cut $34.5 million in education for the current fiscal year, which locally results in roughly $1.6 million in funding to Sweetwater County School District No. 2. Education not only is an investment in the future of Wyoming, but also one of the key items young families look at when deciding to relocate.

With even larger education cuts on the horizon and an unwillingness in Cheyenne to either create or divert funding sources into education, Wyoming is poised to continue its trend of losing residents to other states. Jobs may be an important factor, but people want to ensure a good education for their children as well.

The legislature may have worked hard during the session, but Wyoming and its residents don’t have a lot to show for it.

 

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