The omnibus Education Funding Bill has finally landed on the desks of our Wyoming Representatives.
Sponsored by the House Education Committee, this bill is both reactive and proactive.
Page by page, omnibus Funding Education is now available.
The process started back in the fall and there was six hundred citizen comments shared with legislators.
Representative Mark Kinner shared the House Education Committee believes they have a bill adjusting to the reduced state income, but also a framework for the future.
John Freeman, House Representative said, “We’re trying to cut the fat and leave the muscle and I understand that there's a lot of people saying that we're cutting into the muscle too and that may be true."
Just to provide some reference, the Teacher Accountability Bill is seven pages, the Immunity for Drug Overdose Reporting Bill is five pages, and the Education Funding Bill is a whopping 53 pages!
Representative David Northup shared, “Superintendents, principals, teachers and janitors are going to feel it, that's where the impact will be. But the students should pretty much be on the level and shouldn't feel the change."
This monster bill has a variety of actions including a proposal to cut school days.
“Going from 185 to 180 days will greatly reduce the amount of time spent there and it's money that we're looking at,” said Representative Northup.
Another Wyoming Representative, Landon Brown shared, “We're not going to be cutting our way out of this and we're also not going to be taxing our way out of this.”
But a tax is in the bill and if the rainy day fund dips below 500 million dollars, a half penny tax will go into place until the fund is back above that amount.
“It would be sort of sitting on the sidelines if we should need it down the road,” said Rep. Kinner.
Legislators said the tax will likely never happen and the bill also proposes various cuts and freezes.
Representative Brown added, “Fifty percent to instructional facilitators, for instance, we also have education freezing on transportation and special ed from the previous year and we will be freezing those until a re-calibration of next year to determine whether or not we actually at the right levels."
Governor Mead asked in his State of the State address, the bill creates a joint select committee on education funding. That committee would start meeting next summer to discuss funding opportunities for education for the future.
You can submit a comment on the proposal by visiting the legislature's website or by joining the Legislators this coming Monday at East High School in Cheyenne at 6:00 pm.