Governor Matt Mead said today that the revenue forecast by the State's Consensus Revenue Estimating Group (CREG) is concerning. The forecast shows a drop in revenue to Wyoming from natural gas, resulting in less money available for the next two years. The previous report from CREG, in October, showed revenue slowing but that slowing was further into the future.
"Because natural gas prices continue to fall, all of us are going to have to take a hard look at the budget," Governor Mead said. "Our revenue is tied to mineral development and natural gas is a strong contributor. New projected prices for natural gas could mean a decrease in over $100 million dollars in revenue over two years."
In December, Governor Mead proposed cutting ongoing spending from $2.76 billion to $2.74 billion. Based on current projections, Governor Mead said more cuts might be necessary and he will work the Legislature and the Joint Appropriations Committee on the matter. "If we have to make additional cuts, and we very well may, my request to the JAC is to give me the time to try and make those cuts with precision, understanding that we have already reduced the standard budget and it is not going to be easy business." Governor Mead said across-the-board cuts can have unintended consequences and are not sustainable.
Governor Mead did reinforce his support for funding highways and local governments. He said maintaining and building strong infrastructure is necessary for commerce and economic growth. "As we look at our state today and the money we have in the bank, the fact is Wyoming is in good condition and we want to remain there. That is why we want to respond to the latest revenue forecasts," Governor Mead said.