Gov Mead vetoes three parts of budget bill, adds $25M in fire funds

By striking this line of the budget bill, Gov. Mead boosted the amount of money that can be transferred from landfills to fires from $5 million to $30 million. With the stroke of a pen he made available $60 million in emergency fire funding for this summer. (Courtesy office of Gov. Mead.)
By Gregory Nickerson
February 21, 2013

Today Gov. Matt Mead vetoed three sections of the supplemental budget bill passed by the House and the Senate, while criticizing several other parts that he let stand.

Most notably, Gov. Mead vetoed the legislature’s funding proposal for fighting fires.

The budget bill provided $30 million in General Fund dollars for fires, and added another $5 million that could be taken out of the landfill remediation account. That language ignored the proposal Gov. Mead made in November to set aside $60 million for fires.

Mead’s action keeps the $30 million in General Fund dollars for fires, but allows the state access to another $30 million from the landfill remediation account if the money is needed. The landfill remediation account would be replenished in the 2015-2016 budget bill.

In a letter to House and Senate leadership, Gov. Mead said he hopes that the state doesn’t have to spend the full $60 million he made available for fires, but that it’s important to plan for emergencies.

Gov. Mead also vetoed a section of the budget bill that would sweep excess revenues at the end of fiscal year 2013 into the “rainy day” fund.

Mead’s action would hold the sweep of funds until the end of fiscal year 2014, which would allow any surplus this year to help cover shortfalls next year.

The remaining veto struck a section that would require agencies to submit 4 percent, 6 percent, and 8 percent budget reductions for 2015-2016.

“Rather than increasing government efficiency, this makes for considerable work and eats into time and resources which could be put to other use. In addition, this ties me to specific reduction figures, when a greater reduction may be needed or it may be best to hold spending flat,” Governor Mead said.

Gov. Mead also objected to language that could reduce General Fund spending on one-time projects, rather than just cutting from standard operating budgets.

Several other sections of the budget concerned Gov. Mead, but not enough to warrant a veto. He objected to language requiring the University of Wyoming to report its policies on selecting deans and artwork because such matters do not pertain to the budget.

Mead worried about a provision to lock the school foundation money into permanent savings, making it unavailable to cover short-term deficits in the school budget. He said he would ask the legislature to reconsider this policy in 2014.

The governor also objected to the state taking on maintenance costs for community college buildings constructed with local money. Lastly, he objected to the legislature’s one-time bonus for state employees because he prefers raising salaries according to studies that identify fair market pay.

A press release of Gov. Mead’s vetoes is available here. For a more detailed letter detailing Mead’s positions to House and Senate leaders, click here.

— Gregory Nickerson is the government and policy reporter for WyoFile. He writes the Capitol Beat blog. Contact him at greg@wyofile.com.

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Gregory Nickerson

Gregory Nickerson worked as government and policy reporter for WyoFile from 2012-2015. He studied history at the University of Wyoming. Follow Greg on Twitter at @GregNickersonWY and on www.facebook.com/GregoryNickersonWriter/

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