Governor Matt Mead submitted his proposed budget proposal for the next two years today. In contrast to the steep upward trajectory of state spending over the last decade, Governor Mead's budget is flat. Stemming the tide of budget growth of previous years is a priority for Governor Mead. The budget proposal for the next two years also supports the long-standing policy of saving both in permanent and more flexible ways. Right now, Wyoming has significant savings in various accounts. Returns on savings invested contribute to Wyoming's positive revenue outlook and provide protection against revenue downturns.
"Wyoming has a hard-earned and well-deserved reputation as an economic leader in the nation. Today we remain in an enviable position. We can ask how much should we save and how much should we spend on services, healthy communities and effective delivery of services," Governor Mead said. "I recommend a budget that continues to save -- both in dollars and in infrastructure development -- and that ensures the delivery of effective, efficient services by cities and towns, and by counties and the State. It is a budget that continues to guard against the explosive growth of the last decade and a budget which positions Wyoming to effectively serve its citizens."
Governor Mead's proposal of $3.3 billion in total spending, including one-time and ongoing, is almost identical to what he proposed two years ago and is down from total spending in the last two-year period. "Financially, we are on surer ground than we were a year ago. We are fortunate that state revenues are higher than forecast, so we do not need to repeat the painful process of cutting budgets again, but we should not get ahead of ourselves and spend like there is no tomorrow," Governor Mead said.
This proposal also leaves $219 million available for the Legislature for its priorities and for saving. Governor Mead, within this budget, identifies priorities for the state. These include pay increases for employees (state, judiciary, University of Wyoming, community colleges and K-12 teachers), the unified network, support for local government, and more resources to reduce the waiting list for the developmentally disabled.
"Wyoming is and has been smart with its money. We are not shortsighted. We know we have the ability to continue saving but also to strategically deploy resources," Governor Mead said.
Infrastructure projects in this budget include:
· the unified network to bring state-of-the-art technology, capacity and efficiency to every corner of the state;
· local government projects;
· an updated University of Wyoming College of Engineering facility;
· new schools;
· funding for court security and school safety;
· and updates to the State Hospital, Life Resource Center, Boys' School, and National Guard armories.
"Infrastructure is another form of savings and it does not fluctuate with the market. It supports local communities, commerce, industry, education and citizens. Projects from highways to school buildings are long-term investments that return dividends to the State in real and diverse ways," Governor Mead said.
The state's standard budget has flattened over the last few years after a period of steep growth. This year's budget continues the flat trend in spending despite additions to the Department of Health's budget, statutorily driven budget increases and inflation.