Wyoming lawmakers want agency budget cut plans despite veto

CHEYENNE (AP) — The Wyoming Legislature intends to direct state agencies to prepare for a range of budget cuts despite Gov. Matt Mead’s recent veto of a similar directive in the state’s supplemental budget bill.
The Legislature’s Management Council, a group of senior lawmakers who set legislative priorities, voted last week as the legislative session was winding down to require legislative committees to review budget cut proposals of 2, 4 and 6 percent from most state agencies before the next year’s budget session.
That vote came a week after Mead vetoed language in the Legislature’s supplemental budget bill that would have required most state agencies to propose budget reductions of 4, 6 and 8 percent for each year of the 2015-16 biennium. He objected to preparing detailed plans for cuts in advance of revenue projections.
“Rather than increasing government efficiency, they make for considerable work and eat into time and resources which could be put to better use,” Mead said of requiring state agencies to plan for a range of cuts in his Feb. 21 letter to lawmakers.
Although lawmakers didn’t try to override Mead’s veto, the Management Council action would apparently have a similar effect.
Sen. Phil Nicholas, Senate majority floor leader and a member of the Management Council, said he doesn’t see any difference in what state agencies would have been required to do under the language that Mead vetoed compared to the council’s instructions.
If state agencies failed to respond, Nicholas said lawmakers could cut their budgets across the board.
Nicholas, R-Laramie, said he expects the co-chairmen of the Joint Appropriations Committee will send out letters in the next few months directing state agencies to provide information on how they would make the cuts. “So we’ll end up in the same place in terms of having the information prepared to analyze,” he said.
Mead spokesman Renny MacKay said Monday that the governor continues to believe that it is not a good practice to establish budget reduction amounts without looking at specific services and revenue. “He believes the state needs the ability to adjust to circumstances and should continually look for efficiencies in services and programs,” MacKay said.
 

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