Last Friday, there was a fire at an office building Donna and I own. By the grace of God nobody was hurt. By the time we learned of it, the fire was out. I wrote thank you notes to each of the responding agencies.
When I called Donna the morning of the fire, I thought I should take a day or two off from the session and drive home to survey the damage. She said, “No, you go to the Legislature and I will take care of the fire.”
Later, after she reconnoitered the situation, she told me stay in Cheyenne and keep working. Nothing to be done until the insurance adjusters do their work. She’s a fantastic woman, and I couldn’t be luckier.
Meanwhile, a tough budget session is in full swing. The woes of our economy are familiar. Workers have lost jobs, businesses have downsized or closed. Families across the state are cutting back their household budgets. Some have lost their homes. State revenues, too, are down by hundreds of millions of dollars.
In response, some governmental programs have been eliminated entirely. Many others have had double digit cuts. Education, always a priority for the people of Wyoming, is currently working through a 1.4 percent cut, with an additional 5.6 percent cut under consideration. When I tell this to worried educators who contact me, most of them are relieved, having been under the impression the cuts are more sizable.
The education revenue shortfall is $400 million in a $1.7 billion budget. If passed, that 5.6 percent cut represents $91 million dollars, so even then, the shortfall would be far from solved.
Several legislators, including myself, have proposed a Constitutional amendment that would enable voters to weigh in about an educational spending system governed by courts and consultants. If passed and placed on the ballot, a “yes” vote by a majority of the voters would prohibit court ordered tax increases. The burden is on opponents to justify why the voters can’t be trusted to do so.
I do hear from some folks advocating for increased taxes and fewer cuts. I intend to continue to resist tax increases and to persist in reducing the size and scope of government.
Dave Kinskey represents Wyoming Senate District 22, which consists of Johnson County and eastern Sheridan County. A businessperson and former mayor of Sheridan, Kinskey can be reached at Dave.Kinskey@WyoLeg.gov or cell 751-6428.