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Mead vetoes cuts to four agency budgets

Gov. Matt Mead vetoed the budgets crafted by the Legislature for four agencies on Friday, exercising his authority to veto either the entire budget bill or specific line items.

The Legislature overrode many of the vetoes Friday night.

In addition to the agency budget vetoes, Mead vetoed a prohibition on filling vacant positions in state agencies and a requirement that he cut 90 state jobs, according to a letter sent to Speaker of the House Steve Harshman. The Legislature overrode the veto Friday evening.

In his veto letter, Mead reiterated that he did not believe deep cuts the Joint Appropriations Committee made were necessary. The budget is a supplementary one, and the Legislature will convene to draw up a new budget next spring.

“Perhaps unprecedented, the supplemental budget is the third cut to the standard budget in twelve months,” Mead’s letter began. He was referring to cuts the Legislature made during the last session, a number the governor’s office estimates at $67.7 million. Mead himself slashed $249 million from agency budgets in June.

“Wyoming came into this session in much better fiscal shape,” he wrote. He said additional reductions could be necessary for the 2019-2020 biennium budget, but the letter implied the Legislature had gone overboard, as Mead has said previously.

“In some areas, in my view, cuts run too deep,” he said.

Cuts to the Pipeline Authority, the Water Development Commission, the Department of Corrections and the Wyoming Business Council were all vetoed in the Governor’s letter.

The Legislature voted to override the vetoes to each agency, with the exception of the Water Development Commission and the Wyoming Business Council. Those overrides failed in the Senate. 

The vetoes would have restored $4 million to the the budget bill. Before the vetoes the bill cut a total of $30 million from the budget, Rep. Tom Walters (R, HD-38, Casper) said. Walters is a member of the House Appropriations Committee.

He said the budget bill could also generate up to $17 million in savings by prohibiting state agencies from filling any vacant positions and eliminating 90 jobs, which were not identified. The amount saved by eliminating positions is less clear before the cuts are made, as it depends on the salary of the positions eliminated.

After the Legislature’s veto overrides, $3.6 million was restored to the budget, Sen. Bruce Burns (R, SD-21, Sheridan) said.

The governor said he vetoed the reduction of 90 positions “because of the uncertainty that creates for state employees and whether or not their job will be one of the 90 eliminated.” The Legislature voted to override the veto of the hiring freeze and elimination of 90 positions.

This story was edited Saturday morning to note override votes of of the governor’s vetoes.  — Ed.

 


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About the Author

andrew@wyofile.com

Andrew Graham is reporting for WyoFile from Cheyenne, where he covers the legislature. Reach him at 443-848-8756 or at andrew@wyofile.com

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