CHEYENNE, Wyo. (AP) — Wyoming lawmakers agreed to more than $20 million cuts to public education but went ahead with spending on new construction projects before finally adjourning for the year.
The four-week legislative session went nearly a week later than originally planned while lawmakers grappled with even modest measures to address an $850 million deficit, much of which is in K-12 education spending.
One deal reached before Thursday’s adjournment funds several major projects, including a state office building in Casper and new science facilities at the University of Wyoming.
The education cuts remained contentious to the end.
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“It’s going to literally destroy my small school,” Rep. Tim Salazar said, R-Dubois. “This is not fair. This is not fair to small schools in the state of Wyoming.”
The House ultimately voted 34-22 for the cuts. Some conservative House members, including Salazar, joined with all nine House Democrats in opposition.
“I’m not saying I’m happy about it and it’s certainly not perfect,” House Speaker Steve Harshman said, R-Casper, in encouraging support for the bill.
Given the intense debate and unusual extension of this year’s four-week legislative session, Gov. Matt Mead is likely to sign the two remaining measures or otherwise allow them to become law.
The two chambers passed a budget for general government operations Saturday but remained divided on the two funding areas, The Casper Star-Tribune reports .
Lawmakers took a break while giving Mead time to veto remaining legislation. They reconvened Wednesday and Thursday, using leftover time from last year to avoid convening a special session.
Lawmakers failed to override any of Mead’s vetoes. One vetoed bill would have increased penalties for protesters who interfered with infrastructure such as oil pipelines.
Information from: Casper (Wyo.) Star-Tribune, http://www.trib.com