Funding debate continues


March 14, 2018

The standoff between the House and the Senate within the Wyoming Legislature has helped curb potential cuts proposed to education spending, however a final estimate as to how much funding for schools across the state could get remains unclear.

Pete Brandjord, Sweetwater County School District No. 2’s business manager, said estimates from the Legislative Service Office state House Bill 140, which focuses on school finance, would result in a reduction of $135,000 for the school district. However, Brandjord said full impacts of the bill won’t be known until later.

Rep. Joh Freeman, D-Green River, attended the school board’s meeting Tuesday night and spoke about the intense debate that has taken place in Cheyenne.

“This is an early evening for the legislature this year,” Freeman said while pointing to a clock on the wall. “I’ve been going out to my car after 10 (p.m.)”

Freeman said the biggest problem the state faces is it isn’t receiving money from the traditional sources it has relied on, such as coal lease bonuses.

Freeman said the Senate thought it could cut its way through a $380-million deficit while members of the House opted to redirect funds and use reserve funding to close the gap.

“It was hotly contested between the House and the Senate,” he said.

The education debate resulted in Freeman posting his first protest vote in the House, voting against Senate File 29. The file includes computer science as part of the core curriculum and Hathaway Scholarship requirements. Freeman said he supports teaching computer science, but does not support the fact it was approved without providing funding to districts to provide materials and training for teachers at a time when the Legislature seeks cuts to education spending. The file passed.

The Legislature reconvened Wednesday to further debate and approve the state’s budget.

Board member Corina Tynsky expressed her disapproval with how the Legislature continues to threaten education funding.

“What’s going on in the Legislature is really sad,” she said.


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