Governor Matt Mead said today at a news conference that he will begin reviewing state agencies' proposed budget cuts. The Legislature had asked agencies to prepare 4% reductions, but with natural gas prices staying well below forecasted levels Governor Mead asked agencies to double their proposed cuts. The proposed 8% cuts for fiscal year 2014, which starts on July 1, 2013 are due to Governor Mead today.
"I believe this process will be very difficult for all agencies and it will certainly be difficult for me and the Legislature to work through," Governor Mead said. Eight percent cuts would save Wyoming $75 million per year. Taxes on natural gas are the biggest source of revenue for Wyoming. The price of natural gas dropped to a ten-year low this year. "That has a big impact on our state. Hopefully gas prices will go up and the cuts will not be needed to this degree, but the more planning we can do the more precision we can have in the process."
Governor Mead will review the agencies' proposals and come up with his recommendations ahead of the 2013 Legislative Session. Lawmakers will then vote on the possible reductions.
Joan Evans, Director of the Department of Workforce Services, joined Governor Mead today to announce the hiring of a new Occupational Epidemiologist. Dr. Mack Sewell will fill the position. Director Evans said Sewell's hiring is a culmination of work done by partners in the Legislature and the Workplace Fatality Task Force. "I look forward to Dr. Sewell coming on board July 9th to join our team of workplace safety professionals," Evans said.
Governor Mead said Dr. Sewell will pick up on the work done by Wyoming's first Occupational Epidemiologist, Dr. Ryan. "In my view it is appropriate to have this as a long-term position to continue to look at the data and see where we are lacking so we can address gaps with training and enforcement as soon as possible."
Governor Mead and his staff will engage the public and stakeholders over the next six months to create a Wyoming Energy Plan. An energy plan must be a relevant and adaptable today but also in the coming decades. More information about the plan will be available on Governor Mead's website. Anyone wishing to comment or find out about the process can go to the website. The first kickoff meeting with an initial segment of stakeholders will be held on May 24th in Casper.
Governor Mead has been appointed to the Homeland Security Advisory Council to fill the spot vacated by outgoing Republican Governor, Sonny Perdue of Georgia. The Council advises Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano.