(The Center Square) – Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon released details of his 2023-2024 biennial budget.
In all, Gordon’s budget shows $2.23 billion in general fund spending and nearly $1 billion more coming from the federal American Rescue Plan. The budget is down more than $600 million from the last biennium budget.
Gordon said he introduced the leaner budget to hopefully stave off future spending reductions resulting from COVID-19 or unfavorable economic conditions such as inflation.
“While Wyoming’s revenue picture has improved since early last year, I believe we must be mindful about how we deploy the serendipitous, additional funds forecast for the coming biennium,” Gordon wrote in his budget message. “Today’s good fortune is a reprieve, not a solution to our revenue stability.”
Last quarter, Wyoming saw its highest inflation rate since the early 2000s at 5.4%, according to a report by the state Senate Joint Economic Committee. For comparison, the state’s inflation rate stood at 1% just 12 months ago.
“High inflation robs us of our economic gains; it impacts the budgets of families, businesses, and state government,” Gordon said. “We are seeing bids for construction projects come in well overestimates and the cost of utilities is climbing. An approaching winter could exacerbate this situation, forcing the state to spend more just to keep the lights on in our schools, diesel in our snowplows, and heat on at the State Hospital.”
Gordon added that government staffing shortages could challenge the state’s ability to provide services. For example, Gordon said the state is having trouble hiring and retaining workers in the Departments of Corrections and Transportation.
One reason for the staffing shortages is that compensation levels for Wyoming public employees is still set at 2017 levels, and Gordon said he wants to increase state worker pay.