House Revenue Committee Chairman Mike Madden cocks a wary eye at a state fiscal analyst as he receives reports on the deficits in funding for Wyoming’s public education system during a June meeting of the Joint Revenue and Select School Finance Recalibration committees. (Andrew Graham/WyoFile)

The thorniness of Wyoming’s fiscal problems must weigh on House Revenue Committee Chairman Mike Madden judging from this photo from a June 12 committee meeting in Riverton.

Tedium and frustration warred in the room as, not for the first time, lawmakers received a dire report on the growing education-funding crisis from state fiscal analyst Matt Wilmarth.

Wilmarth sits on the right side of this photo. As is usually the case in interim committee meetings, the lawmakers sat in a row, speaking to each other but facing outward to the crowd. The Riverton meeting combined the Joint Revenue Committee and the Select Committee on School Finance Recalibration — together including some of the most experienced, and the most influential, lawmakers in Wyoming.

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That day, Wilmarth informed them that without a solution the state would go in the hole by more than $530 million paying for public education from 2019 to 2020, and that the number would grow by $100 million the biennium following. On top of that were deficits ranging from $195 million to $205 million for school construction and maintenance.

As a crowd of both educators and energy, business and tax lobbyists looked on, the solons’ seats must have felt very hot that day indeed.

Andrew Graham

Andrew Graham is reporting for WyoFile from Laramie. He covers state government, energy and the economy. Reach him at 443-848-8756 or at andrew@wyofile.com, follow him @AndrewGraham88

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