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.