Wyoming Governor: Budget Shortfall Largely Due to Savings Requirement
The more accurate figure for Wyoming's General Fund shortfall is $52 million, not $156 million as shown in the latest update from the Consensus Revenue Estimating Group, according to a news release from Wyoming Governor Matt Mead.
Of the $156 million shortfall for the rest of the 2017-18 biennium as shown in the CREG's October projection of state revenues, $104 million is due to a statutory requirement to refill a savings account, according to the release.
The Governor told a press conference Monday that he will not submit further budget reductions before the 2017 legislative session convenes. He asked the Wyoming Legislature to create guidelines for using the Legislative Stabilization Reserve Account, also known as the 'rainy day fund.'
"The cuts made by the Legislature during the session and the cuts I made in June have put us in a manageable position," Mead said.
Over the summer, Mead made additional cuts to state agency budgets, yielding $250 million, according to the CREG report.
"People understand we need to tighten our belt as we make these difficult cuts," Mead said. "But they may not understand that we make these cuts as we keep filling savings accounts."
State revenue hit a 33-year low, according to the CREG report, largely due to mineral tax collections falling to their lowest levels since 2003 and a 20 percent drop in sales tax collections from fiscal year 2015 to fiscal year 2016.
"There is an appropriate amount of the Rainy Day Fund that can be used during this time to ensure we take care of our roads, healthcare and other important services," Mead said. "Additional cuts to the Departments of Health and Corrections, for example, will be very difficult."
"My hope is that we can work closely with the Legislature to smooth out this downturn by using some of our savings -- especially as those funds are growing," Mead added.
Mead's budget will be completed by Dec. 1, according to the release.